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One thing I dont understand is we have E10 right now at many stations - from what I understand the 'summer blend' wont have E10 anymore.......why? Just keep it the same year round.
I don't know where you heard that. In most states, and most metro areas, E10 is mandated year round.
 

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How many acres of land would have to be planted to harvest enough to meet demand? (competition with food crops affecting prices?)

How much water is needed for this process? (affects on water supply)

How many forests have to be cleared to make room for this stuff, releasing all that carbon into the atmosphere? (higher timber costs?)

How much fertilzer runoff will contribute to dead zones in the Gulf Of Mexico? (higher seafood prices?)

Are there crop rotation requirements to maintain adequate soil balances?
HoosierRon said:
Less than corn.

Less than corn.

None. The Great Plains have always naturally been grassland. They have never been covered with forests.

Less than corn.

No.
Good answers, HR.

It's amazing how much people don't know or choose not to know to keep the anti-Ethanol myths alive. My parents have switchgrass growing on their land, it's a frakin' weed to us here in the Midwest. Now it can serve a purpose and it doens't even require 1/10 the work that corn does. Coolness.
 

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I have this awesome idea.......

kill the 35MPG law instead force all gas to be E10 then in 2 years jump to E20 gas.........

Thats a 20% reduction in gas consumption and its done while producing US jobs and helping the US economy although these companies will likely out source anyways as soon as they get the chance.
Good idea actually, except people who own '96 or older cars won't be able to get fuel without changing gaskets, seals, fuel lines and such. I'm guessing OBDII cars can handle E20, perhaps most fuel injected ones can, too. No one is saying what the cut-off is. That does make sense though, every little step we can take is progress.
 

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Every time any pro ethanol argument is posted we get the same talking points:

It would take X% of the farmland in this country to replace gasoline.

Which is true, but there are millions of gas online cars on the road that aren’t going anywhere. Ethanol will replace a portion of the current vehicle fleet and perhaps a majority of new cars representing the annual growth to the vehicle fleet. It would take 20-30 years to replace all gas vehicles in this country, by then Hydrogen and electrics could be the better option.

Bio-fuels displace food crops.
True, the largest agricultural companies will shift production to higher value crops. The demand for food isn’t getting any smaller, this will create new jobs and business in the economy as more people begin farming. How quickly we forget the last cause-de-jour, the replacing of farmland with housing. If farmers are making enough profit from farming, they will not sell to developers.

It’s all simple economics.
 

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Good idea actually, except people who own '96 or older cars won't be able to get fuel without changing gaskets, seals, fuel lines and such. I'm guessing OBDII cars can handle E20, perhaps most fuel injected ones can, too. No one is saying what the cut-off is. That does make sense though, every little step we can take is progress.
Well its not like we could go to E20 nationwide tomorrow even if we wanted to. Right now ethanol production is about 4% of gasoline production. By the time that gets past 10%, there will be a fraction of pre-1996 vehicles on the road. After that, there is no reason you cannot offer E10, E20 and E85 the way three grades of gasoline are offered today. That way, the older cars can still use E10.
 

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wildgoosechase,
I didn't mean to come across as so negative. I'm thrilled that switchgrass is being investigated. Not only is it better for the environment than corn, it also will require no government subsidies to get off the ground.

We should certainly start using it, as quickly as we can.

I just wanted to point out that more research is needed.
There are other crops like miscanthus (a special hybrid plant similar to sugar cane that can yield 14-17 tons of material for ethanol).
http://www.ethanolproducer.com/article.jsp?article_id=3334

Some types of bamboo are hardy and grow incredibly fast. I haven't seen anything that says it is easy to convert into ethanol or biodiesel, but it can relatively cheaply be made into charcoal. That's another possible form of domestic energy production.

A few companies have come up with ways to recycle organic wastes like sewage and animal plant byproducts into fuel. Since those wastes will exist whether we use them or not, making good use of them is logical.

The holy grail of renewable fuels, if anyone can get it to work, is biodiesel from algae.
http://oakhavenpc.org/cultivating_algae.htm
Supposedly, 5000-15000 gallons of biodiesel per acre of algae per year is possible. (That's 40 times as many gallons per acre as ethanol from corn, and diesel is also much more energy dense than ethanol.) If a company can get that working, less than 1% of the surface area of the US would be needed to supply all of our current petroleum needs.
 

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With all of this talk about switching to small turbo mills to power our cars, let's not forget that ethanol brings huge octane benefits which means you can tune the cars for higher compression and get more power out of them on ethanol. This will eliminate a lot of the energy difference between gas and ethanol. Most new engines coming out of detroit will be flexfuel i'm pretty sure, it gives them credits to count against CAFE.
 

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Does any body know how many times in a season switch grass can be harvested?

I also want to know what the ratio for tons produce and how much land is use compared to corn. I would just like to see more comparisons against corn. It sounds like it will be a better choice than corn and it will not rape the soil like corn will.
 

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Great thread.

thanks for the information.

Hope it pans out.

JB
 

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Does any body know how many times in a season switch grass can be harvested?

I also want to know what the ratio for tons produce and how much land is use compared to corn. I would just like to see more comparisons against corn. It sounds like it will be a better choice than corn and it will not rape the soil like corn will.
Based on hay cuttings, I would say on average 3-4 but with really good midwestern soil and plenty of rain, 6-7 clippings are possible, plus this stuff is much more hardier than alfalfa or bluegrass.
 

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on interstates, they should use the clippings from the side and center ditches to make ethanol, then sell it to raise more tax money for road repair.
 

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Meh, just another glossy photo and gee-whiz dreamland story.

First, keep in mind that we are talking about farming here. This isn't your yard and even though it may all be "grass" to you, to those of us who produce it and especially those who will rely upon it for their livelihood, it's a serious crop just like corn, wheat or any of the other traditional ag products.

The inputs for grasses may be less than those for row-crops, but that doesn't mean the inputs are zero. If you want yield, you have to supply water and fertilizer. And, trust me, hay doesn't harvest & transport itself! I won't even go into the chemicals and fuel required for weed management (remember this is a crop) as it'd make the eco-hippies cry.

Also, the yield forecasts are extremely optimistic. Currently, there are no varieties that produce the outlandish yields being published. And, with the current varieties, the more frequently you harvest, the less overall yield there is. Then, as the plants age, their yield drops. So you'll have to either slash & burn (modern-day method is RoundUp) or overseed every 7 or so years in order to keep yields up. Research what it takes to get switchgrass established as a crop.

Finally, there are still hidden costs not being discussed. The largest one in my view is the cost of livestock feed. As hay fields are shifted to switchgrass production, what will happen to the price of forage- and subsequently beef? Remember (or research) that to get good forage, you need to harvest before maximum biomass is reached. Thus, ethanol will still be competing with animals for feed.

Sorry folks, there is no miracle crop- yet. Algae does look promising, but it also needs more study as to what hidden costs it brings. In the meantime, drive less and drive slower.
 

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Gotta be easier to grow switch grass compared to pumping oil out of the ground or getting it out of shale etc....

I like the idea of growing the switchgrass along the highways and harvesting it for road repairs...

I say have prisoners in jails harvest the switchgrass nonsense and pay them a dollar a day.

We have millions in jail costing taxpayers money.. Time for them to hit the roadgangs and contribute to society..

The higher gas prices are BS..The oil companies are raping the public every chance they get.

New companies, new ideas such as this to kick the crap out of the oil companies suits me just fine..
 

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How many acres of land would have to be planted to harvest enough to meet demand? (competition with food crops affecting prices?)

How much water is needed for this process? (affects on water supply)

How many forests have to be cleared to make room for this stuff, releasing all that carbon into the atmosphere? (higher timber costs?)

How much fertilzer runoff will contribute to dead zones in the Gulf Of Mexico? (higher seafood prices?)

Are there crop rotation requirements to maintain adequate soil balances?
Good questions, but I have a few to add.

How much does it cost to import oil from countries not friendly to the US?

How much does it cost me as a taxpayer to then pay for the defense against these American-unfriendly nations whose purses have been bloated with American oil money?

How much sea life is destroyed when drunk captains of Exxon ships ride merrily into rocks and spill millions of gallons of oil into the ocean and threaten large ecosystems? How much does it cost me to have to pay for Exxon's screw-up, cuz I know you know the settlement they paid didn't come close to covering half the cost of clean-up?

How much does being at the whim of other nations and oil speculators cost me when I have to buy goods and services produced through the use of petroleum and transported around the nation through the use of petroleum? Surely, they pass those costs along to me.

I'm guessing the answer to each one of these questions is either a little more than 10 cents or a little more than one otter.
 

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i know someone in the corn ethanol business. he says. "don't tell anyone but this is a horrible way to make fuel but its making me money......" If it weren't for the fact that Americans demand instant solutions and have no patience we wouldn't be in this mess. We'd probably be better off if everything was just E10.
STOP USING CORN!
 

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If a major cost factor for farmers to produce the ethanol is fuel cost itself, could they not factor in the savings that could be realized from using ethanol when harvesting/shipping/etc?
 

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Modern farm equipment doesn't run on ethanol. Biodiesel perhaps... but fuel is only one input. Most fertilizer and weed control products are also petroleum based.
 

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If they could use bahaia instead of switchgrass, the southern states could make a killing harvesting the interstate medians.
 
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