John Corn Forum Moderator 6 Posts
Re: How can the Chemical Industry Offer Guidance When it Comes to Ethanol?14 July 2008 at 1:29pm
As it happens, one of the leaders in this area of research is a faculty member here in the Chemical Engineering Department at OSU. When I posed the requester's question to Prof. Bhavik Bakshi, he responded...
"This is an area where we have done quite a bit of work lately, as have others. I have attached a paper that contains some of our findings. Corn ethanol can save oil and some CO2 (if you ignore international land use changes), but it uses more of almost every other resource. If land use changes are considered, the greenhouse gas benefits could be reversed."
Energy, and ethanol in particular, are very important subjects now and will be for some time but our Society, or profession, seems to ignore the subject. We are the ones who could give the congress the most capable guidance but we do nothing. The last article I saw in one of our publications was maybe two years ago. That article indicated that, using the best available technology for each component (fertilizer production, farming methods, fermentation, distillation, etc.) the use of feed grains took 25% more crude oil than if we just converted oil to gasoline as we have been doing in our existing refineries. I believe there was an indication that there was even more net greenhouse gas emission from the use of ethanol. Yet we still have many in congress, and the media, saying ethanol makes us less dependent on foreign oil (really just on oil, but foreign oil sounds better for them). It seems criminal that we continue to promote ethanol, even subsidize it to a considerable extent. The public is getting screwed both ways and we, as engineers who can analyse and guide on such questions are silent. Has any other work been published that would show the idea has any merit? Who do you know who could shed some light on the latest developments in this area? I am more or less retired but keep up with what is going on pretty well and have seen little from our profession recently. We are not being responsible citizens. I know energy/ethanol is not exactly your area of expertise but there are no other "experts" who should have knowledge of costs and benefits like those who do process development. Incidentally, back in the Carter administration I did a feasibility study for an ethanol from corn refinery and it was evident at that time some big subsidies would be necessary for it to fly. (It didn't).
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