Corsair2
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Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:37 am

I had an opportunity to go to Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil to the Embraer facility recently and found that the Brazilians have come along way in becoming the leader in regional aircraft production with their 170/190 aircraft.

I also found that they were very successful in shedding foreign dependence on oil imports by the use of ethanol E85 manufactured from grain products to fuel their cars. They have been able to acheive fuel prices of less than $1/ gallon. Additionally cars are designed to handle both E85 and the traditional gas at the option of the customer. I find this quite interesting that we in the US could take this idea from Brazil and end our dependence on foreign oil. I would like to see our government give incentives to corporations to develop this technology (and will be more likely once we have a new president in 2009). What do you think? Is this an idea people would welcome? Does anyone know what the BTU value of this fuel would be and if it could substitute Jet A-1? What a great lesson from Brazil!  Cool
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desertjets
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RE: Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:55 am

Well the Ethanol issue is not as simple as you would think it is.

First of all most of Brazil's ethanol is derived from sugar cane. Which makes sense since it is easier and more efficient to derive ethanol from sugar vs. corn. The problem in the US is that ethanol is derived from corn. And depending on which study you look at you are using more energy to create the ethanol than you get from burning the fuel. And much of this energy is from oil-based sources. Think of the fertilizers, agricultural equipment, refining equipment, etc.

The other issue w/ E85 in particular is that while it burns cleaner, it is less efficient vs. gasoline. Biodiesel blends may be a better choice in this case, as by their very nature diesels are more efficient vs. gassers.

Another issue, and a huge one, is the land use issue. How much more land would need to be converted to corn production would be needed to provide a sustainable supply of biofuel? How much fertilizer would you have to use? How much water would you need to divert in times of drought (often an overlooked issue) to irrigate all this land? Its a BIG issue and requires a significant amount of energy to do all this too.

Now Brazil's success w/ ethanol may well be an exception. They've had since the early 70s to develop the technology to make it feasible. And their fuel usage is lower than that of the US.


and even the experience w/ ethanol in Brazil points to the fact that satisfying our energy demands is not a simple task. There needs to be research and development of alternative fuels/energy sources from as many points as possible. And there also needs to be a focus on reducing our energy usage, making cars/appliances/buildings more efficient.
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cba
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RE: Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:57 am

Yes, after the 1970's oil shock, Brazil learned its lesson and sought to be energy self-sufficient. A similar massive investment in the US ethanol industry would:

1. Reduce our dependency on oil from a region that is a ticking time-bomb
2. Create jobs and economic opportunities
3. Cut down on CO2 emissions.

It's not a perfect solution, and would never be able to completely phase out gasoline in the short term, but if we start utilizing these technologies now, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
 
aloges
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RE: Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 4:03 am

Quoting Corsair2 (Thread starter):
ethanol E85 manufactured from grain products

Not grain, but sugar cane. That is a major difference as cane grows like weeds in the appropriate climate. You also need to factor in that Brazil has sizeable oil reserves, for example off the coast of Rio de Janeiro (the state), and that it is not a "first world" country with the corresponding high individual energy consumption... and they usually don't heat their houses either as the sun does it for them.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
desertjets
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RE: Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 4:11 am

Quoting Cba (Reply 2):
1. Reduce our dependency on oil from a region that is a ticking time-bomb

Well yes and no. Brazil still consumes more oil than it does ethanol. So it is far from a complete solution. But from what I have read, it has improved air quality considerably.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
Corsair2
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RE: Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 4:29 am

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 1):
The problem in the US is that ethanol is derived from corn. And depending on which study you look at you are using more energy to create the ethanol than you get from burning the fuel. And much of this energy is from oil-based sources. Think of the fertilizers, agricultural equipment, refining equipment, etc.


That is a problem at the current time. I heard that they are also thinking about using prairie grass as the source of ethanol. Interestingly enough, I did some more research and found out that my homestate of Illinois is setting up infrastructure to distribute E85 to some 3,000 independent fuel stations. Prarie grass is everywhere in Illinois and never though it could be useful for anything.
"We have clearance Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our vector Victor?"
 
Pope
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RE: Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 4:39 am

This week's Flight International has an interesting article on the pro's and con's of Ethanol in aviation fuels.
Hypocrisy. It's the new black for liberals.
 
Corsair2
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RE: Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 5:32 am

Quoting Pope (Reply 6):
This week's Flight International has an interesting article on the pro's and con's of Ethanol in aviation fuels

I don't have a copy of this week's Flight. Is there a link to the article?
"We have clearance Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our vector Victor?"
 
PPVRA
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RE: Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 6:07 am

Whilst it yields lower MPGs, it improves power output.

Sugar cane may produce higher yields, but we also came a long way in improving the yield in every stick of sugar cane. I can't remember the numbers, but it was quite a bit, and I'm sure the same can be done with corn (up to its limitation).

Check out this thread:

RE: Mixing Ethanol In Aviation Fuel? (by TripleDelta Sep 23 2005 in Tech Ops)?searchid=128670&s=Ethanol#ID128670

Lots of good info in there.

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 4):
But from what I have read, it has improved air quality considerably.

I would rephrase that into "allowed air quality deterioration to slowdown a tiny bit."


No doubt you could reduce a bit energy dependence. Maybe enough to bankrupt Chavez out of power?

[Edited 2007-01-26 22:12:18]
"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
 
PPVRA
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RE: Switching To Ethanol

Sat Jan 27, 2007 6:14 am

Quoting Corsair2 (Thread starter):

Btw, we have flex-engines. Can run in any percentage of ethanol and gas, or just one or the other.
"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat

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