The darker side of ethanol

The darker side of ethanol

There are 92 comments on the The Indianapolis Star story from Aug 27, 2007, titled The darker side of ethanol. In it, The Indianapolis Star reports that:

In rural eastern Indiana, where corn-seed markers dot the roadside, a number of homemade white signs with electric-red letters have started popping up offering another message: "No Ethanol." Too close for ...

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Since: Dec 06

Greenwood, IN

#87 Aug 30, 2007
Bob wrote:
<quoted text>
I said that diesel gives better fuel economy especially while hauling heavy loads, but you lose that when you drive fast. Nothing you've said contradicts that. It's good to know that your souped-up truck can blow somebody's VW off the road, and that a diesel can win an endurance event. When one wins, the Indy 500, then you can talk.
Bob, if they LET an IRL car run with something like an R10, it probably COULD win the 500, since it wouldn't have to pit as often. And the acceleration would have to be rocketlike, I'm sure (from experience running my truck at a clutch burning SW 5 on my Smarty--go to ) A 500 mile race is as much about fuel management as anything. I promise you, when they let ANOTHER diesel powered car in Indy, I WILL TALK. And I wonít be the only one.

Your knowledge of modern diesel technology is underwhelming. For $700, I can get over 500 HP out of my engine, but the rest of the drivetrain won't handle it. I'm talking about a 2005 Ram with an Inline 6 High Pressure Common Rail Cummins 5.9, not a 89 model with a VE rotary pump and no intercooler, etc.

Any machine will lose in the fuel economy area when it runs above itís optimum Brake Specific Fuel Consumption levels. Combine that with wind resistance and improper gearing, and fuel consumption goes up, WAY UP. My truck (without programmer) lost 5 MPG running thru West TX where the speed limit on I-10 is 80 MPH. Itís pushing a LOT OF AIR, and the transmission is geared for German Autobahn limits for medium duty trucks (62 MPH/100 KPH). Believe me, itís not the engine and fuel that cause the fuel economy loss. Itís a combination of other factors Iíve already mentioned in this paragraph.

Bottom line, I can make so much more power from a turbodiesel with a little cash than I could ever do with a gas engine. You want to know why? It's simple, electronics, direct injection, and the fact that the turbodiesels in these trucks are capable of handling EXTREME PRESSURES by design. Set up right, a 3/4 ton turbodiesel will smoke a stock 07 Mustang GT and still be streetable. The funny part: they NEVER see it coming.

Since: Dec 06

Greenwood, IN

#88 Aug 30, 2007
From "The Heck with Spec"
1952 ó Diesel smokes the field
Cummins is best known for its commercial diesel truck and marine engines. But in the midst of the Great Depression, the company decided to put a modified marine engine in an Indy race car and generate some much-needed buzz.
Indianapolis Speedway owner and AAA Contest Board head Eddie Rickenbacker let Cummins compete in the 1931 Indy 500 as a "special engineering" entry (no prize money) with the proviso that the car average at least 70 mph, or about 40 mph off the pace of state-of-the-art Millers and Duesenbergs. Rickenbacker a year earlier introduced the so-called "Junk Formula" that opened the Indy 500 to stock-block engines up to 366 cu in., offering racers an affordable alternative to the exotic supercharged, straight-eight racing engines of the day.
Cummins commissioned Duesenberg to modify a passenger-car chassis for its 85-hp 361-cu-in. four-cylinder marine diesel. The car qualified dead last at 96.871 mph, but finished a respectable 13th of 40 starting cars, averaging 86.107 mph.
Encouraged, Cummins took another shot at the Indy 500 three years later, this time with a pair of Duesenbergs: one powered by a two cycle and the other by a conventional four-cycle diesel engine. Each engine displaced 364 cu in. and was fitted with a Roots supercharger. Both cars qualified, though a transmission problem sidelined the four cycle after 81 laps. The two cycle completed the 200-lap race but seized immediately afterward, thus ending Cummins' brief foray into two-cycle engines.
In 1950, Cummins contracted with California racecar builder Frank Kurtis for a special tubular chassis to accommodate a magnesium-block, 401-cu-in. diesel truck engine. The Roots-supercharged Cummins Diesel Special made a healthy 340 hp at 4,000 rpm, but barely qualified. On lap 50 of the race, the engine vibration damper shattered, retiring the car two laps later.
Undaunted, Cummins tried again in 1952, this time with a Kurtis-Kraft roadster powered by a 401-cu-in., 380-hp turbocharged diesel, the first turbocharged engine ever to compete at Indy. The big engine lay on its side in the chassis to lower the center of gravity and streamline the body work. Driver Freddie Agabashian captured pole position with the diesel roadster and, in the process, upped the record for single-lap qualifying speed to 139.104 mph.
But victory once again eluded Cummins when an ill-placed turbocharger inlet plugged with tire rubber particles and choked the engine after only 70 laps. It would be the last time Cummins fielded an Indy car.

North Fairfield, OH

#89 Aug 30, 2007
Point 1- The Cornell study referenced in the above posts was conducted by Dr. Pimentel, an entomologist, and is based on erroneous data. I know because I went back through his work with experts from the Colorado School of Mines and as was stated in another post, he used 30+ year old information to create his assumptions. Very faulty and not scientifically valid, though often quoted. And for the record, his doctorate is in insects, not energy, engineering or agriculture science.

Point 2--The article indicates that there is smoke rising from these plants. The reporter needs to educate himself, it is steam, not smoke. As the fermentation process kicks off heat and is cooled through an evaporation process, steam naturally rises. The Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) described in this article, such as Nitrogen Oxide should be captured through scrubbers if they are produced in a volume that requires remediation by EPA at this plant's production level.

Point 3-- There will undoubtedly be more traffic with a new ethanol plant, especially if they are not built on a rail hub. However, with the deteriorating rail infrastructure in this country increased highway traffic is now a way of life.

Congratulations to another community in their closed minded NIMBY approach to local economic generation. Let's continue making all types of production illegal in this country and see how sympathetic China, Russia, Brazil and other countries are when we are completely dependent on them for anything manufactured from raw materials.
Horton Stevenson

Eden Prairie, MN

#90 Sep 8, 2007
Joe wrote:
Ethanol is not the answer. Neither is fossil fuels. While Jack made some valid points the real solution is finding ways to reduce our consumption. The future lies in reliable public transportation and cars that get 40-50 miles a gallon. The problem with this is NIMBY(not in my back yard) Just like people in the country don't want an Ethanol plant in the horizon, people in the city don't want a communter rail in their back yard. Someone is going to have to give something up or we will all be paying $5 or $6 a gallon.
Also, there could never be enough corn for Ethanol to replace gas. To fill the tank of one SUV it takes about 450 lbs of corn. If we relied solely on Ethanol we would someday have to make a decision between food or filling up our car.
There is absolutely NO reason why a passenger car can't get 100 miles to the gallon. The technology is there. The Dee-troyt MAFIA wants you to buy a new piece of metal and plastic every three to five years. And so they'll string you along. Their lyingasses have been challenged by the so-called environmental/biofuel "movement." So they put a carrot on a stick. Now it's 28 miles to the gallon or 32 miles to the gallon, whatever they want to pull out of theirasses.

There has been a carburetor designed that will get 100 mpg easily.

Ask your great grandad, if he's alive. Ask him about Henry Ford's Model A. When it FIRST came out, it got at least 70 miles to the gallon. Then he mysteriously cut back to 40 mpg. Mainly just a difference in fuel injection.
Horton Stevenson

Eden Prairie, MN

#91 Sep 8, 2007
BTW, we are SPOILED. The Euros pay at least $5 to 6 a gallon! Have been for many years.

Let's hope Fred Thompson can kicks someass when he's Prexy. None of the other crooks running have a pair of balls, and that includes Hillary.:)

Since: Dec 06

Greenwood, IN

#92 Sep 10, 2007
Dear Horton,

Show me the money. Besides, the only reason a 2007 model year diesel pickup doesn't get 25-30 MPGs is WIND RESISTANCE. Doesn't matter what you do, it takes so much HP to push a given mass thru the air, given a specific Drag Coefficient. The 03-current Rams are both heavier and have a lower Cd than the 94-02, which had the best Cd of any 1/2 to 1 ton PU at the time it was designed. Guys have put aerodynamic mods on 03-up Rams and hit 30 MPG cruising on the Interstate. Truck aerodynamics took a back seat in the late 90s due to cheap fuel and macho truck wars. What I don't understand is Chevy and Ford are still making bricks and the 2009 Ram is expected to be the next mini T600 (Kenworth's first aerondynamic truck that set the industry standard for aero efficiency). Inside Dodge, the BR model (94-02 Ram) design was called "T300" in homage to the Kenny.

Since: Dec 06

Greenwood, IN

#93 Sep 10, 2007
Meant to say the 03 and up had a higher Cd than the 94-02.

Eden Prairie, MN

#94 Sep 12, 2007
In my humble opinon, the crooked car companies COULD make a car with utterly fantastic mileage. They are either just shithead dumb or knaves.

Probably both.

That's okay. I use my car very little. I walk or bike nearly everywhere.

So I WILL SPEND zero $$$ on gas and Detroit gas-guzzlers.

Since: Oct 07

Minneapolis, MN

#95 Nov 20, 2007
hug a tree wrote:
We are using foreign oil to produce ethanol. It really is a joke.
And just how are we doing that?.........

United States

#97 Jan 21, 2008
did you read the front page of the Indy Star yesterday? They are now producing ethanol from plastics, grasses, trash,etc at a much cheaper price than from corn..........under a $1.00 a gallon. this is great news for the consumer...maybe not so much for the farmers.
supply and demand

West Newton, IN

#98 Jan 21, 2008
Plow _Boy wrote:
The darker side of ethanol, who writes this stuff anyway? What a bunch of crap! I've got an idea people, why don't we kill off about 75% of the worlds pop and we'll have hardly any pollution. Interesting thing everybody wants jobs, money, nice home, nice car, high tech toys, energy at the flip of a switch but they don't want it in their back yard. So what will it be folks? Let the Muslims win and take us all back to the 17th cent. or progress and find new ways of doing things and understand that to have some things means pollution.( Deal with it) Or better yet blame Bush like so may of our child like minded dems do, with no real solutions to give us except make everybody live in big mega cities and rule over their lives telling them what to do.
Gosh...why have the think tanks not chosen you to lead them with all your well thought out, brilliant solutions.

We need more great ideas like you've given us to solve the complex problems facing humanity and to think you're right here in the midwest!!
Me and mine

Indianapolis, IN

#99 Apr 15, 2009
John wrote:
<quoted text>
The Indy Racing League is using 100% ethanol this year.
The INDY racing league has ALWAYS ran ethanol, they just decided to make a BIG DEAL of it this year. What you think cars ran on before petroleum? Did the ford Model A get gasoline you think, or did it run on corn whiskey. Start figuring things out people!!!

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