Corn is Yellow, not Green: The Developing Ethanol Fiasco


Remember when you first heard about shirts 100% made from corn? I do. My first thought was, what do they taste like? Well, turns out, they taste no different from other shirts, and have no real nutritional value (No, I didn’t eat my shirt). Coincidentally, corn has no real Green Energy value either. 

Ethanol is problematic for many reasons. First, E10 fuel (or conventional gasoline blended with 10% ethanol) delivers about a 2% decrease in fuel economy over regular gasoline. That’s low enough that the average driver won’t notice, but regardless you end up using more fuel.

Next, ethanol can dry the fuel system. Ethanol is anhydrous – it contains no water. Refineries typically do not mix ethanol with fuel because pipelines contain a significant amount of water. If a percentage of ethanol and water settles at the bottom of your fuel tank, your vehicle will run very poorly.

Live in the North? High ethanol-content fuel may not start in cold climates. An E70 fuel will only start because of the other 30% which is volatile fuel. An E100 fuel may not start at all, leaving the average commuter in a real pickle.

Most importantly, ethanol can corrode your fuel system and leave deposits on your engine. Ethanol is a mildly corrosive acid and can accelerate corrosion to aluminum, brass, bronze, silver, lead and other alloys found in the fuel system. This is especially true of older cars. In your engine, E10 is worse than conventional gasoline in terms of deposits. Oddly, E85 is said to leave less deposits, but solubility problems have been linked to the detergent additives in E85 fuel.

I say all of that to tell you this: It recently has come to my attention that the EPA announced that it’s upping the ethanol mix in gasoline to 15% for model years 2007 and up. People aren’t buying enough gas to meet the volume of ethanol being produced by the farmers.

Why up the ethanol content? The government “owes” the farmers and producers protection, since most would never have grown all the corn without the Government “guarantee” of a market. So, even though ethanol is acknowledged as an ineffective energy source (consumes more than it yields), hurts fuel mileage, consumes vast amounts of another precious resource (water), and competes with people and animals for the food supply, the government is forcibly upping the amount of ethanol used. Laughable, if it wasn’t so sad. A multi-decade war on emissions and planet-harming substance just took a kick to the gut. Government regulations forcing consumers to pay for and use a less effective product because of its own miscalculations. The Democrats are desperate for votes in the corn belt, there’s no way they will let the farmers think they made a mistake.

In the meantime, what is the likelihood of a better, more efficient, cleaner energy source being implemented while the government “owes” the ethanol producers? Squat.

On a definitely unrelated note, Rooster has informed me that stock of Archer-Daniels (big ethanol producer, seed and fertilizer supplier) just hit a 28-month high.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Corn is Yellow, not Green: The Developing Ethanol Fiasco”
  1. Bob M. says:

    Amazing – where do you unearth this kind of information?

  2. Veronica says:

    This is an interesting viewpoint — but I can say that in all my readings of alternative energy sources ethanol tends to get more flack than any other. It is renewable, burns cleaner, and can give back to the American economy (our farmers) in a positive way. While it is not perfect, one must remember that with any new idea (in this case, alternative fuel sources) there have to be trade-offs and adjustments.

  3. Karen says:

    You are right; as far as giving back to the farmers, the government gives enough! They pay a subsidy only to farmers who plant roundup ready seeds, which means that they are encased to be immune to pesticides and weed killer. There are only about 3 varieties of corn left, there is more corn harvested than the WORLD can use, so they add a huge amount of chemicals that comes out with a sweet taste – it’s cheap and is currently in almost everything because of it ska high fructose corn syrup. Also if you are a small farmer who can not afford all the equipment, Rd up ready seeds, etc. You do not receive the government subsidy and can not compete with the huge farms; drive through Kansas – it is enough to make you cry with the small farms abandoned and farmed over by the large “government subsidized farms. Now do you want to hear the same story about the feed lots. Good for the people? I don’t think so!

  4. Karen says:

    I just reread my comment and it sounds much more confrontational than I’d intended. Always enjoy healthy debate.

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