About Ethanol

Facts about Ethanol

  • Ethanol is a sustainable, renewable fuel while petroleum fuels are unsustainable, fixed and running out!
  • A very recent study found that the global warming impact of the modern ethanol plant is 40% lower than that of a petroleum plant.
  • Ethanol is an oxygenate that reduces petrol tailpipe carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 30% and tailpipe fine particular matter emissions by 50%.
  • Ethanol’s higher “octane” actually results in improved fuel consumption.
  • Ethanol delivers 67% more energy than in takes to produce it.
  • AUD115 million of capital expenditure went directly into Queensland companies for the construction of the DBRL plant.

  • For every 1,000kg (1 tonne) of sorghum consumed DBRL produces 900kg of WDGS and 90kg of syrup for beef and dairy feed lots.

Myth

Fact

Ethanol will cause the cost of food to increase in Australia.
Ethanol produced from sorghum and other grains consumes only the starch content of the grain.  The energy and protein rich by-product goes back into the food chain as animal feed. From one tonne of sorghum, approximately 80% of the grain will be recycled as very high quality animal feed. In an annual sorghum crop of approximately 2,000,000 tonnes per annum in Australia, only 200,000 tonnes per annum (or 10%) will be diverted to ethanol with 160,000 tonnes of high quality feed going back into the food chain – a net loss of only 40,000 tonnes.  Sorghum not consumed in Australia is almost always exported to Japan.
Ethanol has a lower energy density and hence reduces vehicle fuel economy.
Theoretically E-10 fuel consumption is approximately 1-3% higher, however this is almost always offset by being 3cents per litre cheaper at the bowser than unleaded fuel.  Further, the real world experience is that reduced fuel consumption is a non issue, in fact, the “increase in octane” results in improved fuel consumption.
Ethanol consumes more energy during production than it produces.

Petroleum distillates have a negative energy balance.  Petrol delivers 23% less energy than is required to produce it!  Ethanol on the other hand has a positive energy balance.  On average, ethanol delivers 67% more energy than it takes to produce it (USDA).
Ethanol damages car engines.
Contrary to popular belief, ethanol does not dissolve the metal in car engines.  Some rubber components in pre-1986 cars may harden but all vehicles manufactured after 1986 are approved to use E-10.  Millions of flex fuel vehicles in the USA actually use E-85 which is 85% ethanol and is up to 25cpl cheaper than unleaded petrol.
Ethanol production requires subsidies to remain viable.
The ethanol industry receives virtually no subsidies compared to the billions of dollars of subsidies enjoyed by the petroleum industry.  The ethanol industry does not currently pay excise, an incentive used worldwide to encourage development.  In Australia the industry will start to pay excise on an energy basis from 2011; this is in line with all other transport fuels [Energy Grants (Cleaner Fuels) Act 2004].
Ethanol has a net positive carbon footprint.
Actually, the carbon footprint of ethanol production is almost neutral; when DBRL captures carbon dioxide the footprint may become net negative.  DBRL is currently conducting its own carbon Life Cycle Analysis.
Ethanol cannot replace petroleum fuels on a sustainable basis.
The truth is that ethanol is “grown every year” in the field while petroleum fuels are fixed, finite and running out!  And whilst agreeing ethanol cannot totally replace petroleum fuels, it and other renewable fuels can make a very significant contribution to dwindling and expensive world fuel supplies.
Ethanol from second generation feed-stocks is imminent.
Second generation will not happen unless first generation lays down the building blocks and develops the market.

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