Thursday, November 10, 2011

{Guest Post} Don't Get Shucked; A Rant Against Corn Based Ethanol

My buddy Cyrus posted this on his Facebook page today, and I asked his permission to post it here since he (as a chemical engineer with much deeper knowledge of these things than I possess) did a much better job than I could have. I've been hearing a similar rant from Zach for a while, as well.  For my part I just think it's silly to burn corn as fuel when starving people could it it, instead. 

Those that know me know that I am very passionate and informed about the energy needs of the world and the state of our current fossil fuel driven economy.  I am deeply concerned that this is not sustainable on many levels.  Also those that know me know that nothing irritates me more than corn ethanol and the government subsides we waste on it.  I think we need to end these subsides, put our investment into efficiency and nuclear research, and face facts : we are squandering the fossil fuel inheritance in ~1 century that took 500 million years to accumulate and possibly irrecoverably damaging the biosphere.

It seems there is a pretty big range in the thermodynamic estimates of how much energy we put into making a liter of corn based ethanol but the energy you get out in a car is undisputed.  The realistic estimates for energy in put the total balance at very negative.  You would be better off just burning the natural gas we spent making the corn based ethanol.  This is a huge waste of our tax dollars and wastes are extremely valuable fossil inheritance.  Insult to injury, the agriculture ends up damaging the biosphere and driving up global food prices, something the poorest people on earth can ill afford.

Get informed – read this excellent blog :

Also if you want to check out the thermodynamics and do a bit of a “deep dive” on corn farming energetics, read this :

Even the congress knows the corn subsides are a joke :

Don’t get shucked, fight back against the corn ethanol subsides.

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