Saturday, February 21, 2009

Producing ethanol is more efficient than gasoline...debunked...

One of the problems with the ethanol industry is their reliance on fallacious arguments to make their case. This doesn't help with the long term viability of the industry.

In one of the more frustrating arguments, ethanol proponents argue that producing gasoline is actually less efficient than producing ethanol. This is ludicrous on its face.

Here is a typical argument that producing ethanol is more efficient than gasoline. Minnesota department of Agriculture propagates this fallacy here.

To produce 1 btu of energy in ethanol, (1.67 btu returned to 1 btu used), it would take .6 btu's to produce 1btu of ethanol. This system has a 40% efficiency rating.

To produce 1 btu of energy of gasoline from crude, it takes .2 btu of energy, for an 80% efficiency.

But the Argonne National Laboratory is cited to show false scientific data as shown here. They show that ethanol has a 1.67% return on energy used, and that oil has a .8% net energy return. These numbers are inaccurate because they show two different statistics. It is true that producing gasoline from oil is an 80% efficient process. However, the 1:1.67 return is a measure of energy used versus energy returned. Oil, therefore, would be 1:4 return (based on returning .8 btus on a .2 btu investment). This is a very large difference.

For ethanol to be taken seriously, the arguments for its use must be accurate.

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