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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ford Heights Ethanol LLC applied in June 2006 to build a distillery in the Illinois town that bears its name, promising economic revival to replace abandoned houses and closed stores. Two years later, no work has begun.

For Ford Heights and other agricultural towns, the ``green- collar'' job revolution envisioned by federal biofuel mandates is a dream deferred. Knee-high grass and old tires cover the site as record prices for corn, the main ingredient in ethanol, discourage investment in new plants.

The $20.8 billion industry may have itself to blame. Breakneck construction led to 168 ethanol plants, already producing more than U.S. mandates require for the fuel additive this year. The distilleries buy so much corn -- as much as a third of the U.S. crop this year -- that they have contributed to price increases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

``I kept saying they're going to kill the golden goose,'' says Jim Jordan, president of Jim Jordan & Associates LP, a Houston fuel-consulting company. ``We have in fact overbuilt. This thing is pretty devastating.''

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=azPOyrCia8Nc&refer=home
 

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I am sorry for that town and its people, but from the beginning I've been opposed to ethanol made from food crops for several reasons....low return for energy input, diversion of food crops from livestock and people, and especially, environmental damage in the form of depletion of aquifers and contributing heavily to that huge (and growing) "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico caused by fertilizer run off. To me, cellulosic ethanol and algal diesel make vastly more sense all around.
 

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I can't make an argument for using corn as a food source. It's about as inefficient a crop as you could find, period.
It is a VERY hungry and thirsty crop.....I quit growing it in my gardens about 5 years ago. Freshly picked home grown corn, raw or cooked, IS awesome...but it killed my water bill!
 

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It is a VERY hungry and thirsty crop.....I quit growing it in my gardens about 5 years ago. Freshly picked home grown corn, raw or cooked, IS awesome...but it killed my water bill!
While I don't disagree that corn is an input intensive crop, there is a world of difference between growing sweet corn in Florida and growing field corn in the Midwest. It's like saying that I gave up on growing banana trees in Wisconsin because it was killing my heating bills in the winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It is a VERY hungry and thirsty crop.....I quit growing it in my gardens about 5 years ago. Freshly picked home grown corn, raw or cooked, IS awesome...but it killed my water bill!
Speaking of killing your water bill, are you the proud owner of any St. Augustine grass?
 

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Speaking of killing your water bill, are you the proud owner of any St. Augustine grass?
Nope I have a grassless property, deeply mulched, that grows food and the roses I use in my breeding work. I have always been appalled at just how much water and nutrition and fuss that St. Augustine requires. Sadly, some deed restricted communities still mandate it despite Florida's ongoing and worsening water issues.
 

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I am sorry for that town and its people, but from the beginning I've been opposed to ethanol made from food crops for several reasons....low return for energy input, diversion of food crops from livestock and people, and especially, environmental damage in the form of depletion of aquifers and contributing heavily to that huge (and growing) "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico caused by fertilizer run off. To me, cellulosic ethanol and algal diesel make vastly more sense all around.
Crop made ethanol might not be the answer, but it did open the doors for cellulosic & algal ethanol. It is amazing how that industry has grown in just the past 6 months.
 

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Crop made ethanol might not be the answer, but it did open the doors for cellulosic & algal ethanol. It is amazing how that industry has grown in just the past 6 months.
Wait - am I missing something here? I thought algae were being used to produce oil substitutes, not alcohol.
 

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While I don't disagree that corn is an input intensive crop, there is a world of difference between growing sweet corn in Florida and growing field corn in the Midwest. It's like saying that I gave up on growing banana trees in Wisconsin because it was killing my heating bills in the winter.
Whether it is grown on Iowa or Florida, corn is a thirsty hungry crop that can and does contribute to the Gulf dead zone. The analogy to bananas in Wisconsin has no merit or basis.
 

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Wait - am I missing something here? I thought algae were being used to produce oil substitutes, not alcohol.
Yes, you did miss something. It is being used for both:

Ethanol from seawater and algae gains large investment: a Biofuels Digest profile of Algenol

One billion gallons of ethanol per year by 2012 are projected from a (near $1 billion) new technology facility being constructed in the Sonora desert area of NW Mexico by Mexico-based BioFields. 1000 gal capacity transparent bioreactors have five inputs: Algae, sunlight, CO2, nutrients and seawater. Outputs are: ethanol, oxygen and freshwater.

The things not needed for the process, developed by Algenol Biofuels of Baltimore, are arable land, harvesting, large amounts of fossil fuel, fossil based fertilizer or lots of fresh water. Algenol estimates the energy balance, i.e., the ratio of energy out vs. energy in will be greater than 8:1 which compares with 1.35:1 for corn ethanol.
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Initial production in 2009 is planned for 100 million gal/yr.

Among interesting data developed by Algenol and made available to Automotive Industries by spokesperson Evan Smith, is an ethanol production rate already achieved of 6000 gal/acre/yr. Algenol data reports this compares with 370 gal/acre/yr for corn ethanol and 850 gal/acre/yr for sugarcane ethanol. The 6000 gal/acre/yr production rate is based on test operation of a prototype 1000 gal. bioreactor unit
 

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Wait - am I missing something here? I thought algae were being used to produce oil substitutes, not alcohol.
Yes certain species of algae can be used to produce ethanol too. Amazingly versatile plant that preceded us humans by a couple of billion years!
 

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Whether it is grown on Iowa or Florida, corn is a thirsty hungry crop that can and does contribute to the Gulf dead zone. The analogy to bananas in Wisconsin has no merit or basis.
It definitely has some merit. Certain plants thrive better in certain climates. Corn is not the ultimate answer though (as you stated). I feel that ethanol, from the best source possible, is an excellent addition to our energy needs that can happen in the near future.

I love how many will discount ethanol solely based on the corn derived. So many advancements have been made. There should be some sort of tax break involved if your vehicle can run on E85 solely for the reason that it helps us become less dependant on oil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Another alternative is methanol. As far as I know this isn't being considered. What follows is part of an article about alternatives to oil:

For each of the four countries, knocking oil off its pedestal is no longer a theoretical proposition but a reality in the making. But despite the lip service our own politicians pay to the need to reduce our oil dependence, none of the solutions offered by Iran, Brazil, China and Israel are even under consideration in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Just go down the list. Natural-gas vehicles are nowhere to be seen. Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol is barred from the country by a steep 54-cent-per-gallon import tariff, courtesy of ethanol protectionists and their representatives in Congress. (No tariff is imposed on imported oil, of course.) For similar reasons, flex-fuel cars sold in the United States are certified to run only on ethanol, keeping methanol and other viable biofuels off the market -- even though they are cheaper and can be made from a wealth of coal and biomass resources. The kind of electric cars deployed in Israel have never returned to U.S. showrooms since General Motors' mass crushing of its EV1 -- the subject of the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

Lin to the full article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/03/AR2008070303250_2.html
 

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It definitely has some merit. Certain plants thrive better in certain climates. Corn is not the ultimate answer though (as you stated). I feel that ethanol, from the best source possible, is an excellent addition to our energy needs that can happen in the near future.

I love how many will discount ethanol solely based on the corn derived. So many advancements have been made. There should be some sort of tax break involved if your vehicle can run on E85 solely for the reason that it helps us become less dependant on oil.
What I meant by no merit is that corn can grow in Florida and the midwest in summer with similar inputs, but bananas surviving in Wisconsin winters without a greenhouse would be close to impossible, so that comparison had no real bearing. The point came up solely due to my saying I had stopped growing corn due its impact on my water bill, with no inference to corn growing elsewhere.
 

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Whether it is grown on Iowa or Florida, corn is a thirsty hungry crop that can and does contribute to the Gulf dead zone. The analogy to bananas in Wisconsin has no merit or basis.
Actually, that analogy does indeed have merit.

While I am not a big proponent of ethanol by any means, the fact of the matter is on my family's farm in WI we don't need to irrigate to grow corn crops. Also, by rotating corn crops with alfalfa (which adds nitrogen to the soil (nitrogen fixing if I remember my terms correctly)), the fertilzer use, while still required, is not as extreme as in other areas and methods of farming, and the irrigation concern does not exist either.

And I'm not writing this because of defending high corn prices... to the contrary, my brother often has to buy additional corn for his dairy cattle.
 

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i honestly dont like the idea of using corn crops as biofuels. farmers in the midwest are changing from wheat crops to corn crops in order to make money selling corn to make biofuels. since wheat crops are going down, the supply of wheat is also down, causing bread prices to skyrocket. plus, since most farmers are now selling corn to companies making biofuels, less is being sold to other countries with a large population of starving people. this is also magnified with the lack of wheat crops and is being felt on a global scale. the US provides a lot of food to less fortunate countries, but now we can't offer as much because we're turning valuable food into ethanol (which is rumored to cause mpg rates to go down slightly). it's great that america is looking for alt. fuels, but lets not starve the world doing it.
 

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Everyone seems to be looking at the negatives about ethanol here. Everything has its positives and negatives. Ethanol is LOWERING our dependence on foreign oils (not a lot, but every bit helps). Also, with everyone trying to grow corn for ethanol and food plus wheat and vegetables to feed the world most farming areas are doing well. Plus, the fertilizer industry is booming, with North American potash, phosphate, and nitrogen companies like Potash Corp, Mosaic, and Intrepid posting record profits, which in turn means money injected into the economies of towns where these companies have mines or refineries and with the world's economy the way it is, its good to know some companies and communities are actually doing good. Hopefully everything will equal out in the end (although sometimes the free market doesn't balance out as well as everyone would hope)
 

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Actually, that analogy does indeed have merit.

While I am not a big proponent of ethanol by any means, the fact of the matter is on my family's farm in WI we don't need to irrigate to grow corn crops. Also, by rotating corn crops with alfalfa (which adds nitrogen to the soil (nitrogen fixing if I remember my terms correctly)), the fertilzer use, while still required, is not as extreme as in other areas and methods of farming, and the irrigation concern does not exist either.

And I'm not writing this because of defending high corn prices... to the contrary, my brother often has to buy additional corn for his dairy cattle.
That is cool to learn that you still do classic crop rotation of corn and alfalfa...are you a minority there in doing that, with neighbors relying on high nitrogen fertilizer, or is that a common practice where you farm? Do you have to pre-innoculate your alfalfa seeds with rhizobia nitrogen-fixing bacteria or do they live in your soil? I think it is wonderful that you can grow corn on a large scale with no irrigation! Do you use BT to control corn earworm?
 

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For each of the four countries, knocking oil off its pedestal is no longer a theoretical proposition but a reality in the making. But despite the lip service our own politicians pay to the need to reduce our oil dependence, none of the solutions offered by Iran, Brazil, China and Israel are even under consideration in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Link to the full article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/03/AR2008070303250_2.html
I agree with the article. But in the land of the Free, pleanty of (ignorant) folks think the freedom we fought for now translate into their freedom to drive a massive vehile that destroys our enviornement.
 
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