UK's Department for Transport Uses Boogeyman Allusions to Sidetrack E10 Adoption

A publishing incident occurred recently that's a good example of how bad information about ethanol gets passed along and how it can propagate more insidious bad information.

Henny Hemmes, The Auto Channel's Senior European Editor, tipped me off to a story that appeared a couple of days ago on the website for Auto Express magazine. Auto Express is a very well known British publication that is about the same age as The Auto Channel. The story is titled "New E10 Petrol Plans: 800,000 Cars Would Be Incompatible." For those who don't know, petrol is the British word for gasoline. (And if you don't know, Henny Hemmes is one of the most successful Dutch race car drivers from the seventies to the present. She was the first female driver to win a Dutch FIA Championship, and has been a test driver and automotive writer for more than 30 years.)

The Auto Express story talks about the UK's plans to raise standard gasoline from E5 to E10, and how the increase from about 5% ethanol-gasoline blend to about 10% ethanol-gasoline blend would be incompatible with around 800,000 cars currently on the road throughout the UK - according to the government (the UK government).

The Auto Express article lists five different examples of cars that are claimed to be incompatible with E10. These examples are part of what the story says is "fresh research" from the RAC Foundation (RAC Foundation had been part of Royal Automobile Club Motoring Services, which was equivalent to America's AAA). The five examples are:

Volkswagen Golf
MG MGB
Mazda MX-5
Nissan Micra
Morris Minor

The article doesn't give the model years that these "incompatible" vehicles would be, so I presume it's just a blanket statement of incompatibility.

Well, the list instantly made me laugh. Three of the vehicles are sold in America and/or Brazil - the Golf, the MX-5 (also known as Miata), and the Micra. In the U.S., our standard gasoline is E10. In Brazil, their standard gasolina is E27. So if the Golf and the MX-5 can run on E10 in America, and all three can run on E27 in Brazil, why would they be unable to run on E10 in the UK?

Answer: They're perfectly capable of running on E10 in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. What the article should say, but doesn't, is that it's not a situation of the vehicles being "unable" to run on E10, but a situation in which the manufacturers have chosen to try and limit their warranty-liability by claiming that no fuel above E5 should be used - this is a far cry from being-able to-run and not-able-to-run.

The other two vehicles are old vehicles, they're classics, of a sort. Morris Minors were built between 1948 and 1971, and MG manufactured MGBs from 1962 to about 1980.  
Here's the thing, from the 1920's to the 1970's at least two gasoline companies in Great Britain marketed ethanol-gasoline blends of E10 to E30. One of the gasoline companies was owned by Standard Oil (Esso), another by Cities Service. These were and are major oil companies. Consequently, both the Morris Minor and the MG MGB were manufactured to run on "power alcohol" fuels (power alcohol is what they called ethanol-gasoline blends). I tried doing an Internet search for any literature from those early days to see if the respective manufacturers restricted their vehicles from using power alcohol fuels, but I couldn't find any (if any reader has such documentation, please send me a copy). The big question, then, is if the Minor and the MGB were able to run on E10 to E30 when they were built, why would they be unable to run on E10 now?

There are very few Morris Minors and MGBs in America today, but my guess is that many... most... nearly all(?) are running on our standard E10 fuel. In fact, I found an original 1967 Morris Minor woody wagon in the Los Angeles area that is advertised for sale. I spoke with the car's owner. The right-hand drive car looks to be in very good condition, and was imported from England 12 years ago. The engine has original parts. I asked the gentleman what type of fuel does the car use? He said, "regular gas." I asked if he meant regular E10 gasoline, and he said, "Yes, just regular gas that you find anywhere." So, if a 1967 Morris Minor is able to run on E10 in Los Angeles and it gets about 40 miles to the gallon (according to the owner), why would it be unable to run on E10 in Manchester or Liverpool or Cornwall or Edinburgh?

I couldn't find any Morris Minors for sale in Brazil, but a quick search netted two MG MGBs for sale in Brazil. One is a 1973, another was a 1974. The regular fuel in Brazil is E27. So if an MGB can run on E27 in Sao Paulo and Bahia, why is it unable to run on E10 in London or Bath or Glasgow?

I think I've made my point; time to move on.    

The Auto Express article states, "The higher bioethanol content of E10 can dislodge deposits in older engines and fuel systems, causing blockages. It can also cause some seals, gaskets, metals and plastics to corrode in unsuitable vehicles."

Deposits? What kind of deposits? Oh, you mean like the built-up gunk that forms from burnt gasoline! The deposits don't come from ethanol, because ethanol burns very, very clean. They come from GASOLINE...PETROL. In other words, the ethanol acts like a cleaner and gets rid of deposits caused by gasoline. Why is that a bad thing?!

You know, it is true that if someone has been using ethanol-free gasoline in their vehicle for many years, and then suddenly introduced a high blend level of ethanol-gasoline to their car's engine that some of those cruddy, crappy, gooey deposits could come loose and gum-up the works. And at this point some maintenance and new parts might be necessary. However, if this is the situation, then their vehicle would require the same work at some point even if they continued using ethanol-free gasoline, just as has been the case for the entire history of the motorcar (automobile). Engine repairmen and facilities are not a new thing; they didn't suddenly crop-up when the Renewable Fuel Standard was enacted.

But, if the vehicles have been using E5 for some time, then there's the likelihood that the small amount of ethanol in the E5 petrol has already been slowly cleaning the engine. Therefore, by making the small move from E5 to E10, there shouldn't be any drastic avalanche of gunk to create a blockage. Instead, the car owner is getting what amounts to a free engine cleaning and crud prevention service. Incidentally, when Brazil was contemplating the move from mandated E25 to E27 the boo-birds came out once again with the same fear-mongering rhetoric that the jump from 25% ethanol to 27% ethanol would somehow be that tipping point at which automobile engines might crumble to dust. They did tests and found nothing to conclude that E27 would be any different than E25, or for that matter E20, E15, or E10.

Now I know that's it's hard to believe anything that comes from people who speak a language other than English (I am being sarcastic), but sometimes it's good to look past your moral superiority of being an English-speaker, and consider that the information could be true.

As for ethanol being the sole or primary cause of corrosion to some seals, gaskets, metals and plastics, like what? Which seals, gaskets, metals and plastics? In my review of compatibility websites that compare different substances and their compatibility with various materials, I think it's glaringly obvious that ethanol is far more compatible with more materials likely to be used in automobiles than either gasoline or the aromatics often contained in gasoline as a replacement for ethanol as an oxygenate (such as toluene, benzene, and Xylene). If you're keen to see the comparisons for yourself, check out these web resources:

https://www.customadvanced.com/printable-chemical-resistance-chart.html

http://www.graco.com/content/dam/graco/ipd/literature/misc/chemical-compatibility-guide/Graco_ChemCompGuideEN-B.pdf  

https://www.calpaclab.com/aluminum-chemical-compatibility-chart/

http://www.plasticsintl.com/plastics_chemical_resistence_chart.html

https://www.calpaclab.com/chemical-compatibility-charts/

So I wrote an email to Hugo Griffiths, author of the Auto Express story (and copied a couple of the editors at the same publication), and in my usual charming bedside manner, I told him that his story was nonsense. Of course, after I sent the email I was immediately remorseful...not because of my harsh condemnation, but because I should have used the word "rubbish" instead of "nonsense" - rubbish seems to be a better British way to say nonsense according to all the wonderful British TV shows that I binge-watch.

In any event, I received back a short but very nice and polite email from Hugo. He wrote,

"Thanks for getting in touch.

"I appreciate your points, and this is clearly an issue on which opinions are divided.

"It's not just the RAC Foundation that considers a large number of cars are incompatible with E10, though. The UK Government estimates there are around million cars on the road 'for which the manufacturer has not approved the vehicle for use with E10'."

Hugo then included a website link to a recent report issued by the UK Department for Transport. That report can be found by CLICKING HERE.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/727547/e10-petrol-consumer-protection-fuel-pump-labelling.pdf

I read the report.

The report doesn't actually state that ethanol is damaging, or how it can cause damage, or which vehicles it is incompatible with. It only makes reference to concerns that have been voiced about ethanol. In other words, the report merely alludes to an ethanol-boogeyman in the same way that adults use an allegorical boogeyman to frighten children into good behaviour (please note my British spelling of the word "behavior" - I did this in the interest of continuing warm relations with our cousins on the other side of the pond).

I replied to Hugo and wrote:

"I understand that there is great division of thought on this issue. Oil industry money has created this division and kept it alive.

"However, the facts are that no gasoline-powered vehicles are damaged because of ethanol-gasoline blends - not in the 60 years that ethanol-gasoline blends were extensively marketed in Great Britain between the 1920's to the 1970's, not in France or Germany or Sweden or any other European country, not in Brazil for the past 50+ years, and not even in Brazil in the years since they've mandated E25 and then E27.

"The RAC Foundation, like the AAA, has probably received significant remuneration from the oil industry and so they are happy to go along with the rubbish.

"Ethanol does not damage engines, it cleans engines. This isn't to say that internal combustion engines that run on ethanol-gasoline blends don't experience deterioration over time owing to wear and tear and the general nature of the fact that there are moving parts, and that fuel is exploding and combusting within its walls. But to blame ethanol for this, as if gasoline (petrol) is not the primary cause of the problems is ludicrous.

"Ethanol has been blamed for corrosion to rubber, plastic and aluminum; however it is gasoline that is corrosive to those substances. It is gasoline that required the invention of a new rubber (Viton) many years ago to stop corrosion, not ethanol. And any metallic substance that can experience rust problems because of ethanol will experience the same results from gasoline.

"I read through the UK Department for Transport document via the link you sent. It is incorrect and it ignores the history of Great Britain's use of ethanol-gasoline blends from Cleveland Discol and Cities Service for many decades. The Dept. for Transport's document should have started off by reminding any reader that ethanol-gasoline blends have a long and successful history of use in Great Britain. And the report should conclude with a statement like: 'E10 to E30 blends provided us with a cleaner, safer, more powerful, and less expensive fuel for more than half a century. There's no reason to think it won't do the same now.'

"I'll be sending an email to the Department of Transport about this..."

As I state at the beginning of this editorial, the Auto Express article is a good example of how bad information gets passed along about ethanol, and how it can propagate more insidious bad information. At the bottom of the webpage that hosts the AE story are comments from readers. Other than my comments about the story, there are several comments from other readers who use the allusions of the AE article to tee-off on ethanol with additional illusionary negative comments about ethanol, such as:

"There are hundreds of 1,000's of classic cars from all eras that would suffer from this fuel; you only have to read the comments on any number of Facebook group pages to read the havoc it's causing in the USA to know it'll do huge harm to classic cars."

In point of fact, although there does seem to be "any number of Facebook group pages" that claim ethanol is causing problems, the havoc is caused not by ethanol itself, but by the routine empty, ignorant lies and exaggerations about the ethanol-boogeyman that were invented and promulgated by the petroleum oil industry long ago

The final result is that we're left with an Auto Express story that only alludes to problems caused by ethanol, and instead of specific examples to prove the problems they rely on "fresh research" provided by RAC Foundation that offers no specific examples of how or why damage from ethanol is caused. Auto Express then backs up all the rumors of ethanol damage with a UK government report that simply refers to unspecified concerns that ethanol can cause problems. And, we get to read a vacuous comment left by an unknown reader that there are Facebook pages in the U.S. that claim ethanol is harmful to classic cars.

Meanwhile, because of this chain of bad information, you know that there will be people running around blabbering that hundreds of thousands of otherwise perfectly good cars will just not operate on any gasoline that contains 10% or more ethanol.

The Auto Express story is nonsense. The information supplied by RAC Foundation is rubbish. The report by the UK Department for Transport is worthless. If you think my take on all this is wrong then read my editorial "The Hypocrisy of Big Oil and API" and try to explain why for almost 60 years British petrol companies and automobile publications screamed that ethanol-gasoline blends were cleaner, safer, more powerful, produced better mileage, and less expensive than ethanol-free gasoline.

Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL

SEE ALSO:

AAA Blunder on Ethanol Sets Off Firestorm of Criticism
http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2013/01/08/062115-aaa-blunder-ethanol-sets-off-firestorm-criticism.html


Why Does AAA and Big Oil Feel They Must Lie to America?
http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2013/05/23/077318-why-does-aaa-feel-it-must-lie-to-america.html


AAA Gets It Wrong On Ethanol Again
http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2015/08/03/138045-aaa-gets-it-wrong-ethanol-again-demonstrates-they-are-clueless.html

Every Spark-Ignited Internal Combustion Engine Ever Produced Has Been Damaged By Gasoline
http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2016/06/12/248417-every-spark-ignited-internal-combustion-engine-ever-produced-has-been.html

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The main issue I have with Bioethanol is how much agricultural land has to be used to provide the feedstock.

I haven't got a problem with conversion of genuine wastes which may include contaminated feedstocks and sugars not fit for human consumption into ethanol.

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A very comprehensive submission and a topic highly important to our climate action efforts , its amazing how its some what in the shadows. We shall be producing sustainable ethanol at our firms pilot project in West Africa and with the Holding company based in the UK we would see the UK as our ideal export destination for fuel blending , but up until now it has been a closed door. This article sheds quite a lot of light on the issue and i greatly appreciate this line of learned thinking and deep knowledge.

 

I would ask what your thoughts are on the aviation fuel regulation on sustainable jet fuels coming into force next year and whether you perceive similar issues with that particular sector.

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(edited)

Marvin -

Thank you for reading my editorial and for your comments. I envy the opportunities available to you and your company in Africa.

Although there are obviously some African nations that have access to petroleum oil, and the potential wealth that their citizens should all share in, the majority of African nations don't (have oil or allow all the citizens to benefit from the resource). Alcohol-based fuels gives all African nations the opportunity to produce their own internal combustion engine fuels from whichever crop or raw material is most domestically abundant. Even if a country doesn't become a net exporter of ethanol or methanol, it's important that they conserve their available currency and reduce or eliminate their dependence upon any other country for their engine fuels.

The issue of ethanol in aviation fuels is an interesting sub-topic owing to the amount of misinformation that exists. The misinformation I'm referring to is the claim that ethanol fuel is unsafe at high altitudes, which is why (it is claimed) the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration 'blocks' the use of ethanol. I've come across this argument again and again over the years.

Of course, the individuals who engage in these tales are unaware that there are aircraft manufacturers, such as Embraer (who build ethanol-powered planes), and there are some excellent stunt pilots who fly ethanol-powered planes. The nay-sayers also appear to be unaware of the fairly extensive marketing done by gasoline companies to sell their ethanol-gasoline blends for use as a superior aviation fuel. The report I wrote last December that I reference in my reply to Auto Express magazine (The Hypocrisy of Big Oil and API) includes examples of print advertisements touting power-alcohol for aviation use).

When I was in Australia two years ago, speaking at their National Biofuels Symposium, there were a couple of presentations given about producing jet fuel from ethanol. Clearly there was and is no reason to think that an ethanol-based jet fuel can't be the fuel of the future for the aviation industry.

There's only one thing that stands in the way, and it's the same thing that has hindered ethanol from taking it's place as the primary fuel for internal combustion engines: the size of the petroleum oil industry's wallet.

With that being said, in answer to your question as to whether I perceive similar problems with the use of ethanol-based jet fuels: Yes I believe the oil industry will do everything possible to undermine and discredit ethanol-based jet fuel. They will continue to lie, bribe, and buy political and media muscle for as long as they can. I believe that the strength of the argument for ethanol can win battles and have growing success, but it's going to continue to take a Herculean effort for our David to defeat the monstrous Goliath.

So, I wish you the best of luck, great success, and if there's anything I can help let me know - I have a slingshot pouch full of sharp stones. 

 

Edited by Marc J. Rauch
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(edited)

Nick - The U.S. has more than enough available land to supply all the crops needed to make ethanol that meets all demands for three reasons:

1. Continuing improvements in farming methods.

2. A wide variety of crops and plants that produce more ethanol per acre, per year, than corn - some of which can be grown on arid land.

3. If we ever approached a time when land-based crops and plants weren't sufficient, we would use algae and seaweed, which can provide about 100 times the amount of ethanol per acre, per year, than corn.

Edited by Marc J. Rauch
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12 hours ago, Marvin Tabi said:

I would ask what your thoughts are on the aviation fuel regulation on sustainable jet fuels coming into force next year and whether you perceive similar issues with that particular sector.

Marvin, the aviation problem with using alcohol as a fuel is the energy density. Going to an all-alcohol fuel reduces aircraft range.

An aircraft is capacity-constrained as to fuel space and when the fuel produces less heat then the engines cannot develop enough thrust to lift off and sustain flight at the fuselage design load, so you have to haul less.   Not sure how these issues are gong to be tackled.  Cheers.

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5 hours ago, Marc J. Rauch said:

Nick - The U.S. has more than enough available land to supply all the crops needed to make ethanol that meets all demands for three reasons:

1. Continuing improvements in farming methods.

2. A wide variety of crops and plants that produce more ethanol per acre, per year, than corn - some of which can be grown on arid land.

3. If we ever approached a time when land-based crops and plants weren't sufficient, we would use algae and seaweed, which can provide about 100 times the amount of ethanol per acre, per year, than corn.

There is a general misunderstanding of the use of corn in alcohol generation and its impact on feed.  Iowa is the main State for development of alcohol, possibly over half of all US alcohol production comes out of Iowa.  That corn crop is not intended for humans, it historically is grown for cattle feed.  The cattle use only part of the corn, I think it is the cob core, and the kernels are what are removed for boiling into alcohol  (or the other way around, I never remember the specifics).  Thus both sectors are satisfied by Iowa corn production, it is not as if the cattlemen are getting spiked because corn is diverted to alcohol. 

Alcohol is best made from sugar cane, which is what they do in Brasil.  In the US, outside Florida and possibly Louisiana, the temperature is not suited for sugar can production, however science is hard at work for breaking down cellulostic fibers to distill the matter into alcohol.  When that works at scale, then switchgrass and even scrap wood chips can be used as a feedstock.  I predict switchgrass will replace corn as a feedstock within ten years, and there is enough switchgrass to fuel the entire USA so then who needs oil?

Any car engine will run on 100% alcohol, incidentally.  You may have to adjust the ignition timing, but hey, no biggie. If the carburetor can atomize the fluid, then when the spark hits, it will burn.  Count on it. 

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(edited)

Jan - Regarding your reply to Marvin:

One of two things can happen:

1. You change the design of the engine so that the "energy content" difference is mitigated, much in the same way that an internal combustion engine can be optimized according to the fuel used.

2. In the process of creating the ethanol from common "ethanol crops" like corn, you create a fuel that mimics the abiotic-based fuel. This has already been done. I've had several people of the last few years that approach me with this as the solution to the argument against standard ethanol. The problem that I remind these people of is that the change in the end-result fuel doesn't end the arguments about "food vs fuel" or "land use" or "fertilizer runoff." While these arguments are really non-existent they do take up a lot of oxygen to shut the debate down.

Edited by Marc J. Rauch
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(edited)

Jan - Regarding your reply to Nick:

Your comments are generally right on the money, except that you can't say " Alcohol is best made from sugar cane," because the "best" item is the one that is most available and at the least cost in the area the ethanol is produced. Brazil's sugar region is very good for sugar crops, so they grow sugar and use it for ethanol. As ethanol production from agave plants picks up then the arid areas of the world, including large tracts in Australia, will be great for this.

Edited by Marc J. Rauch
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8 hours ago, Marc J. Rauch said:

Nick - The U.S. has more than enough available land to supply all the crops needed to make ethanol that meets all demands for three reasons:

1. Continuing improvements in farming methods.

2. A wide variety of crops and plants that produce more ethanol per acre, per year, than corn - some of which can be grown on arid land.

3. If we ever approached a time when land-based crops and plants weren't sufficient, we would use algae and seaweed, which can provide about 100 times the amount of ethanol per acre, per year, than corn.

The US may have the Land.

However your thread focuses on the UK's position on Ethanol. From a UK perspective it has to import almost 50% of its food needs.

However the Algae prospect sounds interesting. Coincidentally my wife did her research masters on commercial algae farms and worked in that field for a couple of years.

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Hi Nick, thanks for your reply.

Your initial response didn't indicate that you were speaking solely about land in Great Britain, but I did make the error of assuming that you were speaking of the U.S. I admit I am myopic in that sense, unless I'm specifically told otherwise.

However, I would point out that the issue of agricultural land was not mentioned in either the Auto Express story or the UK Dept or Transport report. If land use is a significant issue in this regard then they could have/should have mentioned it. In any event, in the case of the UK we're still only talking about moving from 5% ethanol to 10% ethanol, and as we know from history, the ethanol doesn't have to come from corn (the Cleveland Discol and Cities Service ethanol wasn't derived from corn). Therefore, my numbers 1 and 2 are as valid as  #3.

It's exciting to hear about your wife's experience, thanks for that, too.

Regards.

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6 minutes ago, Marc J. Rauch said:

Hi Nick, thanks for your reply.

Your initial response didn't indicate that you were speaking solely about land in Great Britain, but I did make the error of assuming that you were speaking of the U.S. I admit I am myopic in that sense, unless I'm specifically told otherwise.

However, I would point out that the issue of agricultural land was not mentioned in either the Auto Express story or the UK Dept or Transport report. If land use is a significant issue in this regard then they could have/should have mentioned it. In any event, in the case of the UK we're still only talking about moving from 5% ethanol to 10% ethanol, and as we know from history, the ethanol doesn't have to come from corn (the Cleveland Discol and Cities Service ethanol wasn't derived from corn). Therefore, my numbers 1 and 2 are as valid as  #3.

It's exciting to hear about your wife's experience, thanks for that, too.

Regards.

Fair point.

I'm being a bit parochial but given the UKs massive balance trade deficit on food (and everything else!) I'm somewhat sceptical on the prospect of using more land to produce fuel whether it be liquid fuels or biomass for electricity or importing the equivalent.

Then there is the input of other critically non-renewable resources - Phosphates.

Out of interest how much ethanol will a hectare of land in Brazil produce each year and whats the net input of fuel equivalent - the EROEI?

I often compare these to a land based 3MW wind turbine operating at 25% capacity which will generate enough electricity to fuel 1800 Nissan Leafs for 18000km each. That turbine has a EROEI of 20:1.

 

 

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I can't tell you "hectares" because I'm an inches/miles/acres guy. But here's a general list of crop-ethanol yields per acre:

Annual Alcohol Yields Per Acre

Corn                                            300
Mesquite                                     340
Fodder Beets                          1,000
Sweet Sorghum                          600 (multiple crops per yr possible)
Jerusalem Artichoke                   600-700
Sugar Cane                              1,200
Agave                                       1,600
Nypa Palm                                2,000
Cat Tails                                    2,000 – in sewerage treatment areas up to 7,500
Buffalo Gourds                         2,000 – good desert plant
Fresh water algae                       500-600
Kelp                                        30,000 – grows 18” day/10’ week

Lawn clippings could supply 11% of U.S. ethanol needs.

Let's say that the land and food issue is of paramount concern, and let's say that it is absolutely imperative to not muck about with any land to grow crops for fuels. Fine, then the answer is to import the ethanol.

As I'm sure you know, the UK gets the overwhelming majority of its oil from the Middle East. The answer is that instead of importing so much oil from the Middle East to import ethanol (from countries that may not sponsor terrorism).

Regarding EROEI, ethanol production in the U.S. is EROEI positive. And contrary to public opinion, Gasoline is EROEI negative. You can read about this in Part 5 of my review and report of Robert Bryce's book "GUSHER OF LIES" at https://www.theautochannel.com/news/2013/06/11/082057-gusher-lies-book-review-and-reply-to-robert-bryce-pt.html.

For more about land use, go to Part 4 of the same report at https://www.theautochannel.com/news/2013/06/11/082056-gusher-lies-book-review-and-reply-to-robert-bryce-pt.html.

By the way, my business partner and I love wind energy, and we've published a lot of positive stories about it. In the right circumstances and locations it's great. But I think that only he most optimum of conditions would produce a wind power EROEI ratio of 20:1. The other thing is that a 20:1 EROEI ratio doesn't necessarily mean that it's economically that positive.

Feel free to pass along any info on wind energy that you might have. If we aren't giving enough credit to wind energy as part of a good mix, we're happy to hype it some more.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Marc J. Rauch said:

Jan - Regarding your reply to Marvin:

One of two things can happen:

1. You change the design of the engine so that the "energy content" difference is mitigated, much in the same way that an internal combustion engine can be optimized according to the fuel used.

2. In the process of creating the ethanol from common "ethanol crops" like corn, you create a fuel that mimics the abiotic-based fuel. This has already been done. I've had several people of the last few years that approach me with this as the solution to the argument against standard ethanol. The problem that I remind these people of is that the change in the end-result fuel doesn't end the arguments about "food vs fuel" or "land use" or "fertilizer runoff." While these arguments are really non-existent they do take up a lot of oxygen to shut the debate down.

Not really, Marc.  A commercial aircraft does not fly around with either wing tip tanks or wing underslung tanks; they have in-wing tanks and some versions have a "belly tank" or in-chassis tank.  The total volume is both finite and fixed.  If you have your own personal airplane you can fit it out with tip tanks to increase range, and some military transport aircraft have very large undermount wing tanks sitting in a giant pod outside the wing airstream, just to haul around extra fuel.  But that is not a solution for passenger (or freight) commercial transport. 

Given the finite volume, the need is to get as much energy as possible inside those tanks.  Jetfuel has an energy density of between 43 and 48 megajoules per kilogram (dependent on grade of fuel).  Meanwhile, ethyl alcohol ("ethanol") has only 26.8 MJ/kg.  You can try to modify and slice it and dice it a thousand ways to Sunday and you are not going to double the energy content of alcohol.  So if you start burning alcohol in a jet engine (which you can do; it will ignite), you are not going to get either the take-off thrust or the range that you get from jet-A. It just cannot be done. 

You have the same issue with alcohol in autos: sure it will burn, and nicely, but a tankful will not get you as far.  On the ground, typically refuelling is not a big deal, unless you are in the Australian Outback perhaps, but in the air, it is a very big deal. 

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9 hours ago, Marc J. Rauch said:

Jan - Regarding your reply to Nick:

 

Keep in mind that the way Oilprice is set up, unless you upvote a specific poster or directly quote using the "Quote" tab on the bottom left of the post, the previous poster you are replying to will have no way of knowing that you are writing him either in response to a post.  Your comment then goes "into the ether" and is there for anybody to see, except the poster you are directing the comment to is not alerted by the "Bell" showing a flag.  Without that Bell, it is all a matter of stumbling around, pure chance if it gets seen. 

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(edited)

Jan - I'll start with the bottom of your most recent reply first because it will help to answer the top of your reply.

A tankful of ethanol in a car will get you as far as a tankful of gasoline if the engine is optimized to run on ethanol. A tankful of certain levels of ethanol-gasoline blends will get you as far as a tankful of ethanol-free gasoline in some engines even if the engine is optimized to run on gasoline.

Using textbook formulations based on the BTU difference between gasoline and ethanol is incorrect. I've posted about this in the past and provided references.

So again I'll say that there are two ways to skin the cat here: One is to build a jet engine so that is maximizes the characteristics of ethanol, and the other is to not use the raw material (corn, sugar, sorghum, etc.) to make E100, but to make it into a liquid fuel that duplicates the characteristics of 'fossil fuel' based jet fuel. This bio-jet fuel has the same energy content.

Edited by Marc J. Rauch
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2 minutes ago, Jan van Eck said:

Keep in mind that the way Oilprice is set up, unless you upvote a specific poster or directly quote using the "Quote" tab on the bottom left of the post, the previous poster you are replying to will have no way of knowing that you are writing him either in response to a post.  Your comment then goes "into the ether" and is there for anybody to see, except the poster you are directing the comment to is not alerted by the "Bell" showing a flag.  Without that Bell, it is all a matter of stumbling around, pure chance if it gets seen. 

Thanks. I was relying on putting the person's first name before my comments.

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2 minutes ago, Marc J. Rauch said:

Thanks. I was relying on putting the person's first name before my comments.

That won't work, unless by chance the poster goes back into the post and casually starts scrolling through the posts.  Not that many guys do that, it is very time-consuming.  I did but only because I find the subject fascinating.  I can see small, local co-ops starting up, with their own little distilleries, making local alcohol for the co-op members.   I also see the big obstacle the Federal Government (in the USA), where mindless bureaucrats insist on putting a poison into the alcohol so that ridiculous people don't start drinking it.  except: anybody ridiculous enough to drink industrial alcohol is not going to be stopped by the govt putting in some poison, they go ahead anyway.  Yet another dumb govt idea. You get that from full-time bureaucrats who have nothing else to do but dream up obstacles to innovation. Welcome to America, the land of ridiculous bureaucrats. 

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2 minutes ago, Jan van Eck said:

That won't work, unless by chance the poster goes back into the post and casually starts scrolling through the posts.  Not that many guys do that, it is very time-consuming.  I did but only because I find the subject fascinating.  I can see small, local co-ops starting up, with their own little distilleries, making local alcohol for the co-op members.   I also see the big obstacle the Federal Government (in the USA), where mindless bureaucrats insist on putting a poison into the alcohol so that ridiculous people don't start drinking it.  except: anybody ridiculous enough to drink industrial alcohol is not going to be stopped by the govt putting in some poison, they go ahead anyway.  Yet another dumb govt idea. You get that from full-time bureaucrats who have nothing else to do but dream up obstacles to innovation. Welcome to America, the land of ridiculous bureaucrats. 

I also scroll around and don't wait for the dinger to ding, but I'll try doing it the right way from now on.

 

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27 minutes ago, Jan van Eck said:

Not really, Marc.  A commercial aircraft does not fly around with either wing tip tanks or wing underslung tanks; they have in-wing tanks and some versions have a "belly tank" or in-chassis tank.  The total volume is both finite and fixed.  If you have your own personal airplane you can fit it out with tip tanks to increase range, and some military transport aircraft have very large undermount wing tanks sitting in a giant pod outside the wing airstream, just to haul around extra fuel.  But that is not a solution for passenger (or freight) commercial transport. 

Given the finite volume, the need is to get as much energy as possible inside those tanks.  Jetfuel has an energy density of between 43 and 48 megajoules per kilogram (dependent on grade of fuel).  Meanwhile, ethyl alcohol ("ethanol") has only 26.8 MJ/kg.  You can try to modify and slice it and dice it a thousand ways to Sunday and you are not going to double the energy content of alcohol.  So if you start burning alcohol in a jet engine (which you can do; it will ignite), you are not going to get either the take-off thrust or the range that you get from jet-A. It just cannot be done. 

You have the same issue with alcohol in autos: sure it will burn, and nicely, but a tankful will not get you as far.  On the ground, typically refuelling is not a big deal, unless you are in the Australian Outback perhaps, but in the air, it is a very big deal. 

Jan - I'll start with the bottom of your most recent reply first because it will help to answer the top of your reply.

A tankful of ethanol in a car will get you as far as a tankful of gasoline if the engine is optimized to run on ethanol. A tankful of certain levels of ethanol-gasoline blends will get you as far as a tankful of ethanol-free gasoline in some engines even if the engine is optimized to run on gasoline.

Using textbook formulations based on the BTU difference between gasoline and ethanol is incorrect. I've posted about this in the past and provided references.

So again I'll say that there are two ways to skin the cat here: One is to build a jet engine so that is maximizes the characteristics of ethanol, and the other is to not use the raw material (corn, sugar, sorghum, etc.) to make E100, but to make it into a liquid fuel that duplicates the characteristics of 'fossil fuel' based jet fuel. This bio-jet fuel has the same energy content.

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1 minute ago, Marc J. Rauch said:

 

So again I'll say that there are two ways to skin the cat here: One is to build a jet engine so that is maximizes the characteristics of ethanol, and the other is to not use the raw material (corn, sugar, sorghum, etc.) to make E100, but to make it into a liquid fuel that duplicates the characteristics of 'fossil fuel' based jet fuel. This bio-jet fuel has the same energy content.

You can certainly modify the jet engine to gain more thrust from the alcohol burn, by pumping in more alcohol per unit time, but consuming the fuel faster will still dramatically limit the range.  

The idea that it is possible to upscale alcohol from 26.8 to 48 is not realistic, in my opinion, as alcohol has a specific formulation, that is why it is alcohol.  You don't change the energy release upon burn of c2H5OH.  If you are changing the amount of energy release by modifying the formula, then it no longer is alcohol.  Either way, it has to be a huge change.  Cheers.

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(edited)

2 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

You can certainly modify the jet engine to gain more thrust from the alcohol burn, by pumping in more alcohol per unit time, but consuming the fuel faster will still dramatically limit the range.  

The idea that it is possible to upscale alcohol from 26.8 to 48 is not realistic, in my opinion, as alcohol has a specific formulation, that is why it is alcohol.  You don't change the energy release upon burn of c2H5OH.  If you are changing the amount of energy release by modifying the formula, then it no longer is alcohol.  Either way, it has to be a huge change.  Cheers.

But ultimately, we're not talking about "alcohol," we're talking about alternative fuels that make us less dependent on foreign nations, and that are healthier and safer. There's no need to use "drinking alcohol" as a fuel. If corn, for example, can be used to emulate gasoline but provide the benefits of a non-fossil fuel then that's the reason to do so.

I'll point to this story as one example of how a bio-jet fuel meets all the requirements: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2016/april/14/five-jet-bio-fuels-now-approved-says-faa.

The following story was published two days ago:

https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2016/april/14/five-jet-bio-fuels-now-approved-says-faa

Edited by Marc J. Rauch
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29 minutes ago, Marc J. Rauch said:

But ultimately, we're not talking about "alcohol," we're talking about alternative fuels that make us less dependent on foreign nations, and that are healthier and safer. There's no need to use "drinking alcohol" as a fuel. If corn, for example, can be used to emulate gasoline but provide the benefits of a non-fossil fuel then that's the reason to do so.

I'll point to this story as one example of how a bio-jet fuel meets all the requirements: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2016/april/14/five-jet-bio-fuels-now-approved-says-faa.

Marc, the energy content (or energy density) of isobutanol is 33 MJ/kg.  You are still a long way from straight kero, at 48 MJ/kg. 

Will isobutanol work as a jetfuel?  Sure.  but you still end up with the fundamental problem: either you tanker more fuel in weight and volume, or you reduce the range.  And if you tanker, you reduce the payload.

Can you create artificial kero by the Fischer-Tropsch process?  Sure.  That will get you pretty much an exact copy, as the resulting formulation is identical to kero from oil.  But keep in mind that that is no longer "alcohol."  

It does not much matter if you are using a 2,000-mile range aircraft on a 1,200-mile leg; there will be enough storage to haul the fuel.  But you do pay a penalty in tankering the full fuel, as that extra weight has to be hauled aloft.  If the replacement fuel is cheap enough, hey no problemo. If the price is the same or close, then nobody is going to use it.  Nature of the beast. 

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1 minute ago, Jan van Eck said:

Marc, the energy content (or energy density) of isobutanol is 33 MJ/kg.  You are still a long way from straight kero, at 48 MJ/kg. 

Will isobutanol work as a jetfuel?  Sure.  but you still end up with the fundamental problem: either you tanker more fuel in weight and volume, or you reduce the range.  And if you tanker, you reduce the payload.

Can you create artificial kero by the Fischer-Tropsch process?  Sure.  That will get you pretty much an exact copy, as the resulting formulation is identical to kero from oil.  But keep in mind that that is no longer "alcohol."  

It does not much matter if you are using a 2,000-mile range aircraft on a 1,200-mile leg; there will be enough storage to haul the fuel.  But you do pay a penalty in tankering the full fuel, as that extra weight has to be hauled aloft.  If the replacement fuel is cheap enough, hey no problemo. If the price is the same or close, then nobody is going to use it.  Nature of the beast. 

Jan, You're wrapped up in energy density and energy content as if that is the final point. It's not. The energy density of a fuel for internal combustion engine purposes is merely a footnote.

If you walk along a row of new flex fuel vehicles and read the Monroney stickers, you'll see mileage figures for city vs highway driving and using E10 vs E85. The E85 figure is projected based upon the statistical information that 100% ethanol has 33% less energy content than the concoction known as gasoline. The manufacturers don't test and publish actual on-road mileage numbers, and neither does the government. Consequently, the figures are incorrect. And they're incorrect for a variety of reasons, which includes the fact that the burn efficiency of gasoline in an internal combustion engine is so poor that about 25% of the "energy content" is lost. Therefore the actual BTU difference between gasoline and ethanol when used to power an ICE is not 33% but about 12%. However, the government's and manufacturers Monroney numbers don't reflect this.

If all internal combustion engines (regardless of size, number of cylinders, timing, fuel injector specifications, and piston stroke length) operated at maximum performance based upon the energy content of the fuel used, then energy content would be a significant factor. But this is not the case. Simple mechanical adjustments and/or the use of parts made to optimize a particular fuel will make an ethanol-optimized engine more fuel efficient than a comparable gasoline-optimized engine.

Another way to look at this is that bio-diesel fuel will deliver the same MPG as petro-diesel, without any engine modifications, despite the fact that bio-diesel has about 12% less energy content. If energy-content was king, how could this happen?

Now I realize that a jet engine is not the same type of "internal combustion engine" as the typical car engine, and that a simple change in something like spark timing may not make a jet engine running on bio-jet fuel as fuel efficient as it would run on petroleum jet fuel. But this is still because of the optimization of the engine and the aircraft to meet the characteristics of petroleum jet fuel.

Unless you could argue that flight itself requires a certain energy-content level, which you can't, then energy-content is an irrelevant matter - just as it is with road vehicles. If the need exists to move X number of passengers (or cargo weight) through the air, using the safest, cleanest, least expensive, domestically produced fuel, then all that's required are design changes. I'm not meaning to minimize the cost of making design changes, but they do go on all the time. And I'm sure you'd agree that the jet plane of today is more fuel efficient than the jet plane of 30 years ago. This is further proof that energy-content is not the relevant factor.

So, in responding to Marvin's question about if I anticipate there being a problem to shift to bio-jet fuel, my answer is still "yes" because the oil industry doesn't want to devalue their precious poison. And in not letting go, they will use every available lie, exaggeration, and misstatement of facts possible to keep it from happening. As far as I know, there is no world-wide mandate to immediately switch to bio-jet fuel. Therefore, bio-jet fuel should currently be used in those situations where it can be used efficiently Such as the case with that Indian airline, and jet engine and aircraft design should be optimized to use a non-petroleum oil fuel to get to the place in the future where no fossil fuel is being used to power a jet engine.

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6 minutes ago, Marc J. Rauch said:

 

Unless you could argue that flight itself requires a certain energy-content level, which you can't, then energy-content is an irrelevant matter - just as it is with road vehicles. If the need exists to move X number of passengers (or cargo weight) through the air, using the safest, cleanest, least expensive, domestically produced fuel, then all that's required are design changes. I'm not meaning to minimize the cost of making design changes, but they do go on all the time. And I'm sure you'd agree that the jet plane of today is more fuel efficient than the jet plane of 30 years ago. This is further proof that energy-content is not the relevant factor.

 

Sorry, Marc, that is not accurate.  Flight does require an energy-content level. Plus, you are ignoring the problems of tankerage of low-density fuel. 

I gotta get back to work, you have beaten this one totally to death, I suggest you have a coffee with a professional pilot on the merits of tankering  (they all know the concept, they deal with that every single day) and you will find that energy density is a huge factor in flight operations. Cheers.

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