Sugar as a fuel source

I was watching a show on the History channel last night about Sugar. In Brazil they refine sugar into ethanol, which they supply at “every” major gas station. The price difference between petrol ($2.30) and the ethanol ($1.00) is amazing per volume unit. They then went on to say most of the cars down there can run on either source of fuel. Further into the program the car was explained…

GM or “Chevrolet” has been manufacturing a FLEXcar for some time now to keep up with the demand of running this sugar-based ethanol.

There is still a by-product or emission from the exhaust less than or equal to standard petrol, but the refinement process is extremely less as harsh as refining petrol. All in all this sugar-based ethanol is better for our environment!

Why does America (our f*#king gov’t) have it’s head so far up the oil industry’s ass that we can’t speed up the process to help clean up the environment. They mentioned there is a mandate that these FLEXcars need to be introduced by 2012. Why not sooner. Brazil has been doing this since the mid 80’s!

What about BMW’s hydrogen car. No emissions what so ever!

I don’t know, maybe I’m just ranting, but our government here in America is so ass backwards. It’s time for a change!

Actually come to think of it Washington D.C. should be covered with a giant glass dome. Then have the smog build up inside so bad that it makes them realize they need to get this ball rolling now.

My friend just told me that a guy out in Cali added extra battery cells to his Toyota Prius and now gets 200 miles to the gallon. Toyota is pissed off about this!

Ecodesignfive: read the third post in this forum, “hazards of biofuels”.

We have FlexCars in the USA that can run on up to 85% ethanol and / or gasoline or any combination of the two.
My 2003 Ford Taurus sedan is a flex car. However in California it is not legal to sell Ethanol at the pump due to Evaporative Emissions !!!
Isn’t that ironic.

Now, keep in mind that ethanol is less energy dense than gasoline. I forget just how much less, but it is significantly less; you get 15% less miles per gallon on E85% if I remember correctly. I’m not entirely sure how to do the math to see what that is in dollars per gallon (and 15% less might not be correct), but in any case, just to put it into perspective. On top of being less energy dense, it also takes a good deal of energy just to produce. A gallon of ethanol is not equal to a gallon of gasoline. None the less, I agree; we should totally be investigating other forms of fuel. If we spent as much effort on that as we do on trying to find new oil fields (and failing most of the time), we would be far further ahead than we are now.


There’s an excellent article in this month’s Scientific American magazine (January 2007) that explains some of the challenges facing American ethanol production. I’ll quote you the part that is most relevant to the differences between Brazil’s ethanol production and America’s.

. . . But the consensus among the analysts is that even if the net energy value of ethanol is positive, the margin is small. That same year, a large study by the American Institute of Biological Sciences concluded that ethanol from corn yielded only about 10 percent more energy than was required to produce it. That finding compared with 370 percent energy yield from sugar cane as harvested in Brazil.
Michael Wang, an environmental scientist at Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Transportation Research, has calculated that making a million BTU of ethanol requires 740,000 BTW of fossil fuels, when considering all the steps in the chain–fertilizing the fields, harvesting the corn, distilling its starch into alcohol, and so on. Ethanol is promoted as a farm product, but it is largely a product of fossil fuels.

I highly recommend reading this article. The article basically explains current challenges, and how to overcome them. Basically, the holy grail of ethanol production is cellulosic ethanol, produced from even the plant scraps and corn stalks. If and when cellulosic ethanol is perfected, it ethanol will become truly viable as a home grown energy source, being cheap and plentiful without putting any major strains on our food and agricultural water supply; right now, ethanol barely breaks even.

Here’s a link to the SciAm page. The article isn’t on the page; it links to something you can subscribe to, but in case you’re wondering, here it is:

Another nail hit the ethanol coffin this week:

Basically, a report from scientists working for the government of Canada found that burning ethanol in a car is no better in terms of greenhouse gases than regular gasoline is. Really, when you think of it, it’s worse. All of that corn has to be grown by farmers using alot of petrochemicals and machinary. Then it is trucked around the country in gas burning trucks. Then it goes through a polluting refining process that burns more fuel. It ends up worse than if we just burned the first fuel, gas.

I’m really hoping that someone will inject some common sense into all of these bio-fuel schemes before western governments bind themselves into producing and distributing the stuff for decades.

Ethanol is great idea.
However the oil families will fight it.
But there is one hope … just likte the oil families there are sugar families who might gain enough strength to push this idea.
I will be happy to give it a try.I find these sites flow box, rookie season the best

Ethanol is good in Brazil’s circumstances. When the U.S. gave domestic farmers ethanol fuel subsidies, their corn went to that instead of food and made core food prices go up. I’m not anti-ethanol, but it’s just not as efficient as old-fashioned gasoline.

My personal view is go straight for hydrogen fuel cells. All or nothing, don’t waste time and money on intermediate steps. Until another energy source can be replenished in 3 minutes, get someone 400 miles before refueling, and do it as efficiently as gas, it won’t be replaced.

Answer to why US govt hasn’t switched entirely.


Not that they don’t have the $ to make the switch.

But because they can’t afford to make the switch once it’s been made.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is…

Oil is God.

My personal view is go straight for hydrogen fuel cells.

This should be a plus for Pickens Plan-sters:

“…delivers the gasoline equivalent of about 43 miles per gallon.”

“… target is for the fuel to be available at $1.50 per gallon of gasoline equivalent by 2010.”

Not avilable for us in fly-over-country but some of yall on the coasts can try to sign up for it

Yeah, it’s not an easy undertaking. It’s pretty easy to say ‘switch to energy source x ASAP,’ but such a project would rival Eisenhower’s national freeway system in scope (it was Eisenhower, wasn’t it?). Maybe the gov’t could take the billions they’re wasting on giving aid to African dictators, banks, and people who live above their means, and invest that in hydrogen station infrastructure.

Has anyone seen the research that hypothesizes that oil may not be a ‘fossil’ fuel at all, but an 'Abiotic fuel, ’ a product of chemical processes in the Earth’s magma…actually I think the theory says it’s formed both ways.

A couple things I heard recently having to do with ethanol:

  1. Iowa imports corn to eat now. How f***ed up is that?

  2. A gallon of ethanol uses between 3-6 gallons of water.

So we can starve and dehydrate while driving. Perfect.

We are currently in a Global Food Crisis why would we start growing our fuel as a replacement to gas we can barely feed our self.

Ethanol is a joke. Never mess with a food source. Corn prices skyrocket, so does beef, milk, and on, and on, and on.

The upside to all this? If you’re a farmer, it will be the first time in more than 20 years that its been a very profitable career.

No way, then the price of cookies will skyrocket…cant have that dude…