R-Squared Energy Blog

Pure Energy

Bob Dinneen Responds to Rolling Stone

I know it’s been a bit heavy on ethanol lately, but I continue to get quite a bit of activity over the recent Rolling Stone article. That’s the whole reason for writing a FAQ. I have in the queue a half-finished essay on solar thermal, and would really like to delve into that topic a bit more. I don’t want to become “The Ethanol Blog”, but it seems like that recently.

Bob Dinneen, President of the Renewable Fuels Association (the same association that claims displacement of 170 million barrels of oil with the energy equivalent of 64 million barrels of ethanol) wrote to Rolling Stone and addressed Jeff Goodell’s recent story:

Letter To The Editor: Response to “The Ethanol Scam”

In the letter, Dinneen took a shot at me, writing “As is to be expected, Mr. Goodell relied on the figures of an energy blogger for his facts.” Goodell defended me:

For a thorough clarification, check out oil industry engineer Robert Rapier’s analysis. I know that Dinneen finds bloggers unsavory, but Rapier is among the most fair-minded and insightful critics of the energy industry I’ve come across.

And he pointed Dinneen here. So, Bob Dinneen, this one’s for you. Let’s deconstruct his letter. Jumping past the all too predictable ad hominems:

Wow, I am having to jump pretty far. Farther than I thought, as the letter is laced with ad hominems. Four paragraphs into the letter, Dinneen is waving the flag and talking about “Mr. Goodell’s Hugo Chavez.” Was this the best the RFA could come up with? Actually, I want to jump down and address the most egregious error, and the claim that I was most certain would be made by ethanol proponents:

Yet another common misconception offered by ethanol novices is that ethanol is at best energy neutral, meaning it takes as much energy to produce as it yields. As is to be expected, Mr. Goodell relied on the figures of an energy blogger for his facts. Inconveniently for his arguments, the federal government has different figures. According to the Argonne National Laboratories, ethanol yields nearly 70% more energy that it took to produce. Conversely, refined gasoline contains 20% LESS energy that it took to produce.

Can you count the errors and misleading statements? First, “ethanol yields nearly 70% more energy that it took to produce”. Then “gasoline contains 20% LESS energy that it took to produce.” Are you comparing like to like, Mr. Dinneen? Of course you aren’t. By your gasoline metric, ethanol also contains less energy than it took to produce. Why? Because you are counting the crude oil feed as an “input” to the gasoline process, but you are not counting the crude ethanol feed as an input to the ethanol process. You are not comparing like to like; you are comparing an efficiency to an energy return. So, here’s a question. If I give you some quantity of energy to invest in energy production, will you end up with more energy if you invest that into gasoline production, or into ethanol production? The answer is gasoline production, by a wide margin. And I have demonstrated that numerous times, using the pro-ethanol USDA’s own numbers. I repeat: I am using pro-ethanol sources for my analyses. So accuse me of bias if you wish, but that doesn’t change the numbers.

Which brings us to the claim of a yield of nearly 70% more energy than it took to produce. I wonder if Dinneen knows (or cares?) how the USDA paper arrived at this number. I am going to show you how they did, and cite the reports so you can check for yourself. I analyzed the reports in detail here, using their own numbers to show what they did. You can read the analysis for yourself, but here’s the executive summary.

In 2002, the USDA reported on the energy balance of corn ethanol, stating that the energy balance was 1.34 units of energy out for every unit in. As I showed, they did a little accounting trick to get that, as the real number – when full BTU credit was taken for the animal feed by-products – was 1.27. Minor quibble, but it made me alert for more accounting tricks. And we got them in a report released 2 years later.

In their 2004 report, the USDA acknowledged that they had grossly underestimated a number of energy inputs in the 2002 report. So, they corrected those numbers. But some energy inputs had gone down, and at the end of the day, the energy inputs/outputs in the 2004 report were about the same as in the 2002 report. Yet in the 2004 report, they reported that the energy ratio for ethanol was 1.67, which is where Mr. Dinneen got his number.

Now, what was it really? Look at Table 3 in the 2004 USDA report. I will just produce it for you so you can see for yourself:

Table 1. 2004 USDA Report Showing the Energy Return for Corn Ethanol at 1.06.

I know that’s kind of hard to read, but here’s what it says. (You can always check out the original if you think I am pulling any funny business). The energy produced in a wet mill process is only 2% greater than the energy it took to produce the ethanol. And I would point out that things like topsoil and aquifer depletion, energy to build the ethanol plant, etc. were not part of the analysis. (They said they didn’t have good information, so they just omitted any attempt to account for it). For a dry mill process, they reported that the energy return is 1.10, 10% energy produced, and the weighted average of the two is 1.06. Those are the raw, unmanipulated numbers. In other words, input 1 BTU of fossil fuels, output 1.06 BTUs of ethanol. And given the subsidy for ethanol, it should be clear that this is actually a subsidy for fossil fuels, which is responsible for nearly all of ethanol’s BTUs.

In Table 4, to the right, you can see the manipulated numbers, and the energy return of 1.67. So, how did they do that?

What they have done, is they have lowered the energy inputs into the ethanol process by a great deal. And the way they did that was to change their methodology. Instead of taking a credit for by-products, what they did was increase the energy alloted to the by-product. By doing this, they subtracted the energy inputs allocated to ethanol, and therefore manipulated the answer.

There is no reason that they couldn’t have boosted the energy return to any number they wanted, just by allocating more and more of the energy inputs to the by-products. I could boost the energy return to infinity by allocating all of the energy inputs to the by-product. It makes the by-product energy return look horrible, but it artificially boosts the ethanol energy return. And they aren’t reporting the by-product energy return, so you have to pay close attention to see exactly what they did.

Dried distillers grain (DDGS) has become a good dumping ground for the ethanol industry’s claims. When you point out that the energy balance is poor, they take a BTU credit for DDGS, just as if you could put in in your car and drive. But they have now figured out that they place more of the “blame” of energy of production into the DDGS and exaggerate the energy return for ethanol. But you can’t have it both ways. If the energy of production gets dumped into DDGS, it suddenly becomes a by-product with an incredibly high energy cost to produce.

Bottom line: Playing with the numbers doesn’t change the fact that ethanol production is marginally above energy neutral. Despite Mr. Dinneen’s claim that this is a “misconception offered by ethanol novices“, it is in fact true, based on the USDA’s own numbers. Mr. Dinneen and those who repeat the 1.67 number are either misinformed, or purposely misleading the public.

Mr. Dinneen concludes with:

It is entirely appropriate to have a debate about our energy policy in this country.

I agree. Here’s my proposal. Three rounds, 2,000 word limit per round, with the debate hosted here, at your site, and at The Oil Drum. I suggest the debate resolution: “Corn Ethanol is Responsible Energy Policy.” I will take the negative. If you have an alternate proposal, I would be glad to entertain it.

References

1. Shapouri, H., J.A. Duffield, and M. Wang. 2002. The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update. AER-814. Washington, D.C.: USDA Office of the Chief Economist.

2. Shapouri, H., J.A. Duffield, and M. Wang. 2004. The 2001 Net Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol. Washington, D.C.: USDA Office of the Chief Economist.

Advertisements

August 9, 2007 - Posted by | Bob Dinneen, energy balance, ethanol, ethanol subsidies, Jeff Goodell, Renewable Fuels Association, Rolling Stone

85 Comments

  1. He used another sleight of hand when talking about food prices. He only mentioned the consumer impact of higher corn prices and completely ignored the negative impact the higher corn prices have on other sectors of the economy.People like bob dinneen are perfectly content to gut other sectors of the ag economy as long as they get that sweet, sweet, government money for their product.TJIT

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  2. He made another incredibly stupid argument. He thinks that because other industries have had subsidies ethanol deserves a subsidy also.That is like arguing since I hit one thumb with a hammer I need to hit the other one to balance things out.He has to argue that way because without subsidies the only ethanol being produced would be from companies like Jack Daniels and Abita. TJIT

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  3. I hope someone from the DOE is reading these blogs. The whole situation is absurd. I mean the President says twenty in ten but Robert says no way. RR v. POTUSShould be interesting.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  4. I recently interviewed Vice Chairman of GM Bob Lutz for an article I’m writing. After we’d talked for a while, after the tape recorder had gone away, we started talking ethanol (the article is on PHEVs). Much to my surprise, Lutz is all over the corn ethanol scam. He knows its a joke. Very bullish on electricfication and cellulostic ethanol. People like Dinneen are running on desperation and the growing realization that their pot of honey is running dry.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  5. <>I hope someone from the DOE is reading these blogs. The whole situation is absurd. I mean the President says twenty in ten but Robert says no way.<> As I wrote in the other thread, first, yes, I get a fair amount of traffic from lots of government offices, including the DOE. I have had visits from the CIA, Senate, House, and even the White House. Second, are you suggesting that because the President says something, it’s true? Remember “Mission Accomplished”, and all that?

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  6. In order to level the playing field, the US government should remove all subsidies altogether. The oil industry should pay the $500 billion bill for the Iraq war. It was a war over oil in the first place, so the oil industry for pay for the military’s services. Secondly, in order to level the playing field, the US government should force oil corporations to pay for the environmental clean-up expenses for all the pollution and ecological destruction that their operations generate globally. If a drop of oil falls from a pipeline in Nigeria, the oil industry should cleap it up! Thirdly, the oil industry should pay for all of the expenses related to global warming directly attributable to the production and consumption of oil. Finally, the government should impose a 90% tac rate on fat oil industry executives so as to prevent them from retiring with $400 million compensation packages earned by crimes against the impoverished resource-owners of this world. Instead this money should go to the Iraqis who are suffering from the crimes motivated by our own greed & gluttony. ***One more suggestion: Americans constitute only 5% of the world’s population. The world must demand that Americans consume only 5% of the world’s daily oil production. I don’t care for ethanol but I despise oil and hate warfare. Americans should learn to walk again. David Mathews< HREF="http://www.geocities.com/dmathew1" REL="nofollow"> 1001 Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Oil Corporations <>

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  7. “Environmentalists” have no shame. I used to think that they were simply naive–Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, educated silver-spooners with “would you like fries with that” undergraduate degrees–with hearts in the right place.Nope. They are knowing, purposeful parasites. They are trying and succeeding in creating and seeking rents (in the economic sense).Sure, they employ some useful idiots to bray in public, but behind it all are carefully calculated plans to game the system through the federal government.And the feds play along because it increases their power collectively and keeps them in office individually.

    Comment by Jon | August 9, 2007

  8. Given Dave’s marginally on topic response (the response would have been more appropriate in a different thread), I am going to let it stand. But he is on probation. As soon as he starts insulting people, or preaching, “Poof.”

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  9. Quotes from Dinneen and my responses:“that once again they have answered the call and will continue to feed the world and begin to help fuel a nation.”What exactly did they answer the call to? How about the prospect of $4.00 a bushel corn. Corn acreage in IL this year increased almost 50% not from any sense of mission but the simple prospect of improving the profitability of producing a commodity. Nothing wrong with that but to think this is some kind of united mission to feed and fuel the world is reading too much into it. “opportunity to improve their quality of life. And a better quality of life leads to less volatility and less likelihood these nations will foster the kind of authoritarians that pose a very real threat world peace. Yes, people like Mr. Goodell’s Hugo Chavez.”The opposite conclusion is also entirely feasible — energy crops in developing nations might compete for food production, raise food prices to the poor, displace the small landowner with the giant plantation owner, and increase social conflict. History tends to favor this scenario. “A study done by John Urbanchuk, an independent economist, found that oil and gasoline prices have twice the impact on consumer food prices that corn prices have.” This seems to ignore the fact that food prices had remained relatively stable during the past several years while oil and gas prices have been high. The big jump in food prices did occur after the price of corn almost doubled to $4.00 per bushel. I heard recently that the demand for corn for ethanol might already or will soon be greater than the volume exported. Congress is currently working on legislation to fund a major overhaul of the locks on the nation’s inland waterways. The fact that ethanol production is drawing such a vast amount with the potential for much more corn from the stream calls into question the urgent cry from farm state politicians to improve the waterway system. Repercussions of corn ethanol are being felt all over the world. To put such a bright spin on it as the Farm Bureau, Mr. Dinneen, and other industry and government propagandists collude to do, would be ignoring and denying many inconvenient truths.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  10. Hello Jon,> <>Nope. They are knowing, purposeful parasites. They are trying and succeeding in creating and seeking rents (in the economic sense). <> Yeah … I see, it is all environmentalists’ fault. The oil corporations <>ought<> to be able to destroy and pollute the entire Earth if they wish and it is profitable. Who cares about the atmosphere? Clean air is for environmentalists. Who cares about water? Clean water is anti-capitalism. Who cares about the clean Earth? Pollution is a fundamental American value. Given Jon’s sentiments I somehow cannot imagine Homo sapiens surviving for very long on the Earth. Humankind is in the process of poisoning itself out of existence. How would humankind live if our species really wanted to survive on the Earth for millions of years? But no one cares about the future because humans are addicted to luxury, convenience and an unsustainable lifestyle. There is a price which our species will pay for all of this foolishness. Environmentalists prefer a healthy, living Earth to a desolate, polluted, lifeless wasteland of obese and unhappy humans. David Mathews< HREF="http://www.geocities.com/dmathew1" REL="nofollow"> Freedom of Speech: Do Oil Types Need it? <>

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  11. Hello anonymous,> <>Repercussions of corn ethanol are being felt all over the world. To put such a bright spin on it as the Farm Bureau, Mr. Dinneen, and other industry and government propagandists collude to do, would be ignoring and denying many inconvenient truths. <> Are there no repercussions of the oil industry being felt all of the world? I mean … have you noticed all of the dead Iraqis? They have paid a steep price for our oil addiction. And what of Nigeria? The impoverished people of Nigeria are enduring hellish conditions without receiving any of the benefits of the oil industry. Then there are those melting icecaps and glaciers all over the world. Somehow I don’t imagine that the consequences of burning oil appear anywhere on an oil corporation’s balance sheet. Finally, have you seen what the oil industry has done to Canada with the tar sands mining operation? There is a polluted mess which will linger for thousands of years after America has ceased to exist. ***David Mathews< HREF="http://www.geocities.com/dmathew1" REL="nofollow"> Obesity: Why It’s So Popular Among Americans <>

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  12. Mr. Matthews: “Are there no repercussions of the oil industry being felt all of the world?”Is this the topic of the post? But, I can tell you that one of the biggest reasons I am not a proponent of ethanol is that I believe it is only going to perpetuate our dependence on oil, natural gas and coal. Attempting to find a liquid fuel replacement for petroleum is accepting that we are stuck with this unsustainable infrastructure built on cheap oil. Ethanol is “renewable” only as long as the oil holds out.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  13. Robert,Another fine article and just in time as the ethanol industry is pushing hard with its “numbers” that are meant to fool the public..Yet recently, I believe Dr Wang came up with some numbers claiming that one BTU of oil produced 13+ BTU’s of ethanol.. I say so what but how would you answer Dr Wang and all the ethanol shill’s that hang on his every word.. David

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  14. I like to err on the side of caution with respect to free speech, but I am also not going to allow you to post one long off-topic diatribe after another, Dave. I understand your concern about the plight of the poor Norweigans and Scots (I see the horror daily) at the hands of the oil industry, but you might want to consider the role of local governments. Nigeria receives a load of money from their oil resources. The fact that it isn’t trickling down to the population is not due to the oil industry.Now, if you care to challenge or comment on the topic of this thread without an off-topic rant…..

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  15. <>I say so what but how would you answer Dr Wang and all the ethanol shill’s that hang on his every word.<>I have engaged Wang before, and some of those exchanges in this blog. He is the source of lot of confusion, and he is the coauthor of the paper in which they shifted the energy inputs over to the by-product. Make of that what you will…..

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  16. That’s it, Dave. You are done.He called me a racist after I pointed out that Scotland and Norway don’t seem to be suffering too much from selling their reserves – that it is a government issue. For him, the answer to everything bad is “it’s the oil companies.” I think I have given him ample opportunities. Now, on topic or not, I will delete everything you post Dave. I told you and told you that you are not going to pollute this blog with lies.Start your own blog, and rant to your heart’s content. This blog is for discussion of energy issues.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  17. OT – Robert did you ever read A Thousand Barrels A Second? I did years ago, and < HREF="http://energy.seekingalpha.com/article/43530" REL="nofollow">this recent review<> reminded me why I liked it.<>In sum, if you truly want to understand the energy issues we face — or at least get a handle on the key elements — I strongly recommend this book. It could also make an excellent gift for those friends and colleagues locked in one of the “extreme” camps, i.e. “what me worry” vs. “we’re all going to die.” (The book might not change their mind, but it will certainly make them think.)<>I guess that’s my hobby-horse

    Comment by odograph | August 9, 2007

  18. I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the author interviewed. I think it was on the Daily Show, some time last year.I have been so busy that I haven’t been able to read anything for a while. I am hoping things settle down a bit soon. I need to get to the library here to see what they have.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  19. “You people underestimate your power.”I think you can relax and be a little more patient David. While we may have power, we cannot change the world in a day. It will move at its own pace.A short, friendly, post is as good as a long, impassioned, one (in the long run).

    Comment by odograph | August 9, 2007

  20. I was serious when I said I’d send you The Black Swan (user_one@odograph.com)

    Comment by odograph | August 9, 2007

  21. I have a mail drop in Houston, that gets forwarded to me in Aberdeen. But I have never tried to get a package sent. I am afraid it wouldn’t make it. But I do want to read that book.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  22. I can DHS or FedEx it to Aberdeen, no problem.You see … I’m trying to give it to someone who is “wrong” but “redeemable”This insult should allow you to accept my generosity 😉

    Comment by odograph | August 9, 2007

  23. Robert – a bit off topic, but having worked West Africa perhaps I can add to the discussion. The international oil companies operating in Nigeria are part of joint ventures, the majority of which are owned by the Nigerian government. Here is one: < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_Nigeria" REL="nofollow"> Shell Nigeria <> And read this: < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum_in_Nigeria" REL="nofollow"> Petroleum in Nigeria <> These articles seem to be written by human rights advocates, so they have some bias to them. But they are more or less accurate. I hear Shell blamed frequently for problems in Nigeria, but nothing Shell does is without the approval of the Nigerian government. The IOCs would like to spend more money on maintenance and upgrades of the facilities. But such requests are routinely denied by NNPC. The joint ventures are paid a per barrel fee for producting the oil. The fee is on a sliding scale, so the IOC partners get more if the price is higher. But the government’s share is greater than 90%. THe people of the Delta have a legitimate complaint. The oil wealth in their backyard should be shared more equitably. But people in the north, where there is no oil, believe THEY should get some too. On a per capita basis, the US produces more oil than Nigeria. But Nigeria’s economy relies almost solely on oil revenues. Imagine how poor the US would be if everyone had to live on oil company profits. Add to that endemic corruption and things get even worse. So, the local people resort to sabotage, kidnapping, stealing oil field equipment, stealing oil, and other schemes to extract money. For example, the port of Bonny is restricted to daylight operations because locals keep stealing the lenses and lamps from the navigational markers. Just about anything of value in Nigeria has to be physically guarded to prevent theft and sabotage. Usually by the Nigerian army, who are poorly trained, poorly paid, and who supplement their income by working as security for the joint ventures. Sometimes the military shakes down the locals as well or overreacts to situations, leading to violence and death. Human rights and environmental groups like to blame companies like Shell for these problems because they know complaining to NNPC would do no good. The politicians in Abuja, also like to blame the IOCs for their problems because it makes for good politics. If it were up to me I would use more of the oil money to develop the economies in the Niger Delta. That would likely trigger a civil war. The IOCs could walk away from the situation, but then who would replace them? NNPC? The Chinese? I can guarantee you whoever replaced them would be much worse. Another thing you don’t hear is many problems with the offshore facilities. One strategy has been to develop the offshore since it is more difficult to sabotage. But both NNPC and the local politicians have resisted offshore development because they can’t extract as much corruption or political value. Things are a mess. There are days you just want to pull out your hair and walk away. I really like Nigerians (at least the ones who didn’t try to kill or kidnap me). Whenever I run into a Nigerian in Houston I like to chat them up and we talk about where they are from and about what is going on back home. Nigerians love to talk and to argue. The IOCs could do better there. It seems we take 2 steps forward and one step back. Kidnapping the children of foreign nationals is totally reprehensible and barbaric. I know the SPDC country manager personally, he is not a bad guy. As Robert has said, we the same companies don’t have problems in Norway or Scotland.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  24. <>I can DHS or FedEx it to Aberdeen, no problem.<>OK, I will send you my address.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  25. I haven’t read the book but I have read Taleb’s essays. It might be cheaper just to buy the book through Amazon.co.uk than to ship it round trip. Sorry for the earlier long post. Spending any time in Africa changes a person.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  26. <>Corn acreage in IL this year increased almost 50% …<>Not true. IL corn acres in 2006 were 11.15 million and increased to 13.0 million for the 2007 crop. IA corn acres in 2006 were 12.35 million and increased to 13.95 million for 2007. Source: USDA http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/Acre/Acre-06-29-2007.pdf<>…the demand for corn for ethanol might already or will soon be greater than the volume exported.<> The July 2007 USDA Supply and Demand Estimates for corn indicate 2 billion bushels of the currently growing crop will be exported, with 3.4 billion bushels to be used in ethanol production. Also, see http://www.agobservatory.org/library.cfm?refid=96658

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  27. OK, my impression was that the book started well, and ended well … but maybe bogged down a little in the middle.Well worth it though.

    Comment by odograph | August 9, 2007

  28. Robert – I’ve read over Wang’s stuff too. You give him too much credit. He is a lightweight. His degrees are in ecology not engineering or hard science. He is probably unfamiliar with the concepts of heat and material balances. If I’d majored in Ecology I would have either partied a lot harder in college or got more sleep instead of pulling all nighters studying for Transport Phenomena II finals. (Do they still use Bird, Stewart & Lightfoot? God I hated those guys! That blasted red book still sits on my bookshelf mocking me.) Just because he has a PhD and published a bunch of puff pieces doesn’t make him either an authority or right on anything. He tries to come and play in our house by his rules. Before he brings it up. I would argue you haven’t drawn the gasoline boundries properly. You look at all the inputs required for ethanol and compare them to a barrel of crude. You don’t account for the energy required to find, produce, and deliver a barrel of crude to the refinery. The EROI on crude could be as much as 50-1, so it is insignificant. But if you are talking Orinoco heavy oil, syncrude, or tar sands the input energy is no longer insignificant.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  29. Wouldn’t a better method of accounting for the coproducts be to count as energy “output” the amount of energy that would have been needed to produce them by an alternate method? In other words, to assume that elsewhere in the economy some energy is being saved by not producing equivalent amounts of the coproducts?

    Comment by Doug | August 9, 2007

  30. I have an e-mail into E3. Rather than only beat up on ethanol, should we not also be looking at ways in which the ethanol crowd can improve the EROEI? Especially if it is a polticial reality that we will have ethanol going forward?Look, if you are married, there might be better women out there. But, you are married. So you try to make your wife better. Yeah, maybe ethanol is hopeless.

    Comment by Benjamin Cole | August 9, 2007

  31. Some EROEI analysis“Thinking clearly about biofuels: ending the irrelevant net energy debate and developing better performance metrics for alternative fuels”http://biopact.com/2007/08/expert-net-energy-useless-misleading.html

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  32. <>http://biopact.com/2007/08/expert-net-energy-useless-misleading.html<>LOL! I don’t doubt that Bruce Dale, who used to have a lab adjacent to mine at Texas A&M, would wish to throw energy analyses out the door. After all, if you have followed his career, he has been on the ethanol bandwagon for a long, long time. And look at what he wants to replace net energy with:<>Professor Dale recommends comparing fuels by assessing how much petroleum fuel each can replace, or by calculating how much CO2 each produces per kilometer driven.<>We have already been over the petroleum displacement issue. But consider “CO2 produced per kilometer driven.” If we make ethanol out of coal, as he mentions in his article, the resulting ethanol will have a great CO2 produced per kilometer driven. But somewhere along the line, we left off the analysis of the CO2 produced from mining the coal and subsequently turning it into ethanol. Cost effective? Probably. Environmentally sound? LOL!These are the sorts of things that drive me crazy.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  33. <>Wouldn’t a better method of accounting for the coproducts be to count as energy “output” the amount of energy that would have been needed to produce them by an alternate method?<>Yes, that is in fact the perfect way to do it. I have heard people suggest it, but don’t know anyone who has done it. I am not sure whether anyone has a good accounting of the energy inputs into the alternatives to DDGS.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  34. <>I have an e-mail into E3. Rather than only beat up on ethanol, should we not also be looking at ways in which the ethanol crowd can improve the EROEI?<>Of course. We are stuck with grain ethanol. That is reality. Best to make the most of it. And I have gotten a lot of e-mails from corn ethanol people, asking me to help them improve the efficiency of their operation. I have a strong background in efficiency improvements, and if I think I can help them, I do. I have written articles on some of the things that might help. Believe me, I want them to do better, since we are stuck with them. But I also want to focus attention on what it is that we are stuck with, so at some point we start to consider other arrangements.The bottom line is that a fuel that requires removal of a large quantity of water via distillation is going to have a lot of energy input requirements.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  35. <>The bottom line is that a fuel that requires removal of a large quantity of water via distillation is going to have a lot of energy input requirements. <> Heat integration with a refinery could improve overall efficiency. Fermenters could be kept warm with low pressure steam. Instead of using mol sieves for breaking the azeotrope, you could blend gasoline components in azeotropic distillation. Then blend the resulting ethanol/hydrocarbon blend. The tax credit goes to “neat” blending only – I believe that is to keep refiners out of the business. But you could also regenerate mol sieves at the refinery and reuse the heat. Waste water from the ethanol process could be recycled through the crude processing steps. Imagine the outcry if the ethanol subsidy were to go to refiners!

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  36. Dave “anonymous” Matthews:<>Given Jon’s sentiments I somehow cannot imagine Homo sapiens surviving for very long on the Earth. Humankind is in the process of poisoning itself out of existence.<>I do care about the environment. But I reject your fallacious arguments as an “environmentalist.”There’s simply no way you can be so stupid as to believe your own tripe. Ergo, you and your ilk are intentionally poisoning the earth by pushing for corn ethanol.You try to confuse the issue, but the topic here is simple: the evaluation of corn-based ethanol as a replacement for oil. The answer is also clear: No.Corn-based ethanol is a boondoggle foisted upon us by “environmentalists” such as yourself. You and your backers are only in it for the money, which is fine in a free market. But you don’t want a free market. Ethanol can’t make it in a free market. You want the government to mandate your “solution” so that you get rich. The economic term for your activity is “rent seeking.” Corn-based ethanol harms consumers and it harms the environment. There is simply no defense to its use as an energy source.As far as any technical arguments you have: call me when you start running your corn-farm and ethanol distillery/refinery on ethanol, and transporting it using ethanol-fueled tractor-trailers.p.s. and OT: The free market mechanism for reducing carbon emissions is a Pigovian tax. I’m all for that. If you really want to save the planet from global warming, tax the crap out all carbon-emitting energy sources. Just don’t let the activists (aka lobbysists, depending on which party they are lobbying) determine the tax rates, or the playing field will tilt to the special interests.

    Comment by Jon | August 9, 2007

  37. Assigning BTU values to DDGS ignores the quality of the fuel. All BTUs are not equal. If I had my choice I’ll take my BTUs as electrical power please. Efficiency is kind of irrelevent in discussing refining processes. If I wanted to produce gasoline at the highest efficiency, I would just make light straight run by distillation and sell everything else as fuel oil or natural gas. DDGS is like petroleum coke or resid fuel oil. It is a low quality fuel which shouldn’t be compared to ethanol, gasoline or diesel. One way to solve the problem is to take the selling price of the DDGS and then use the sales price to buy more ethanol. Then take the combined BTUs of the produced and purchased ethanol as a measure of the “efficiency”.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  38. Robert said“We have already been over the petroleum displacement issue.”Yeah, but you are still going straight from ethanol BTUs to oil BTUs. Ethanol is ready to burn while oil is not. What percentage of the oil BTUs to you get out? I think you said 0.8.Oil BTUs=138000Etanol BTUs=76000138,000 * 0.8=11040076000/110400=0.690.69*116 million=79.9 millionSo your 64 million number looks a little low on a BTU basis.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  39. <>Yes, that is in fact the perfect way to do it. I have heard people suggest it, but don’t know anyone who has done it. I am not sure whether anyone has a good accounting of the energy inputs into the alternatives to DDGS.<>We’re better off leaving DDGS out of the equation IMHO. The reason is that <>if<> ethanol ever scales up to a meaningful number, they will completely oversaturate the market for DDGS. I remember reading somewhere that they are already exporting it. So, unless you mean finding ways to convert DDGS into biodiesel or some other liquid fuel (and taking into account all the energy required for the transformation) I would just leave DDGS out of it.

    Comment by Optimist | August 9, 2007

  40. <>So your 64 million number looks a little low on a BTU basis.<>But you of course didn’t subtract out the energy required to make the ethanol read to burn. That’s why you are making an invalid comparison. You are subtracting out the refining energy for gasoline, but not for ethanol (and it is much higher for ethanol because of the water).

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  41. What are you talking about? I’m talking about the BTU in a FINISHED barrel of ethanol, ready to burn. You said it’s 76,000. I’ll take your word for it. If that is not right please correct me and show me a source.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  42. <>What are you talking about? I’m talking about the BTU in a FINISHED barrel of ethanol, ready to burn. You said it’s 76,000. I’ll take your word for it. If that is not right please correct me and show me a source.<>Right. But you are talking about petroleum displacement. The petroleum that is embedded in the production of that finished barrel of ethanol is not displaced. Yet what you are trying to do is subtract the energy that results in that finished barrel of gasoline. That is inconsistent.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  43. King,Did you see < HREF="http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/12/study_biomassto.html#more" REL="nofollow">this<>?: <>Germany has sufficient biomass available for large-scale BtL production which could meet <>20%<> of today’s fuel requirements, according to the study. That could increase to <>35% by 2030<> as technology improves.<> Those are pretty impressive %s, even allowing for the usual optimism-factor that goes with some of these analyses.Then there is some sense of reality: <>Production cost for BtL could be lowered to less than €0.80 per liter (<>US$3.98 per gallon US<>).<>Some of that dollar price estimate is probably high due to the exchange rate. Still “could be lowered to less than” is about as loose as it gets. Probably means we need gas at <>$7.50/gal<> for the technology to float. OK, wait until summer 2009? And then there is this: <>The study found that substantial synergies can be obtained by integrating BtL production—which first gasifies biomass to produce syngas for input to the Fischer-Tropsch process—in existing refinery and chemical plants.<>As I said before, we are going to buy our green fuels from Big Oil. You just alluded to the same thing. You guys working for Big Oil better start working on explaining to the masses why green fuels are so expensive…

    Comment by Optimist | August 9, 2007

  44. ” The petroleum that is embedded in the production of that finished barrel of ethanol is not displaced.”And, how much petroleum is that?

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  45. <>And, how much petroleum is that?<>Most of the claims I have seen (from ethanol proponents) suggest that 1/6th of the BTUs in the final ethanol product came from diesel and gasoline. The rest come from natural gas. I can’t say that this number is right or wrong, but I can say that it is a number I have seen frequently claimed from ethanol proponents. This is the source of some claims that ethanol displaces 6 times as much oil (and was probably the source of the DOE claim of 500 million barrels displace).

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  46. “Most of the claims I have seen (from ethanol proponents) suggest that 1/6th of the BTUs in the final ethanol product came from diesel and gasoline.”76000/6=1266676000-12666=63333 Non Petroleum BTU63333/110400=0.57 (Ethanol BTU/Effective Oil BTU)0.57*116 million=66 millionSo net petroleum displacement=66 million barrels.You might want to revise the statement below:“And recognize that we haven’t even touched upon the fact that the 64 million barrels is the gross output, and not the net.”

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  47. Optimist – <> We’re better off leaving DDGS out of the equation IMHO. <> Except that the ethanol proponents MUST bring it or else they can’t make some of their claims. Here is the scam in action: < HREF="http://www.nado.org/rf/innocenters/groschen.pdf" REL="nofollow"> Ralph Groschen, MN Dept of Agriculture <> Look at slides 16, 18, 19, and 21. Mr. Groschen gets 8,400 btu/lb for DDGS. On slide 16 he compares DDGS to natural gas as if the two were interchangeable. Slide 21 is the money slide. This is clearly intended to mislead the viewer into believing that ethanol creates energy but refining destroys it. Ethanol = good, refining = bad. In fairness to Groschen, he is just regurgitating Wang. Prior to 2003 he was using the 1.67 number.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  48. <>You might want to revise the statement below:<>Getting closer, but still missing the fact that a barrel of oil produces natural gas and LPG, both transportation fuels (with natural gas embedded in ethanol production). It also produces coke, which produces electricity embedded in ethanol production. Bottom line? Less than 64 million barrels displaced, which is what I wrote in the first place. And if you consider the fact that natural gas is a fine transportation fuel, of course the fossil fuel displacement goes to near zero.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  49. “Getting closer, but still missing the fact that a barrel of oil produces natural gas and LPG, both transportation fuels (with natural gas embedded in ethanol production). It also produces coke, which produces electricity embedded in ethanol production.”Ok, how many net BTU (all sources), do you get out of a barrel of oil?

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  50. <>Did you see this?<> Yes, I have thought for some time that renewable fuels could be used as input to refineries. That is why the Tyson-COP partnership is critical. It is the first step in that direction. COP has 4 refineries (Borger, Ponca City, Billings, and Wood River) located near potential sources of renewable feedstocks. It makes more sense to convert existing refineries to biofuels than to build new grass roots facilities.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  51. <>Ok, how many net BTU (all sources), do you get out of a barrel of oil?<>The petroleum losses in the barrel are the sulfur, water, and salt content. Those are of course dependent on how heavy and sour a crude is, but the average for the U.S. is less than 2% according to EIA statistics. Then the net input into the refining process is about 10% of the contained BTUs, again depending on sulfur and how heavy the crude is. So you are probably talking about 88% of the energy in a barrel of oil ending up as net.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  52. <>It makes more sense to convert existing refineries to biofuels than to build new grass roots facilities.<>Yeah, but you have to consider the spite factor. It might make more sense, but a spite-based energy policy feels so much better.I have often thought that it would be quite a reality check if everyone was forced to completely do without petroleum products for a month. I don’t think most people realize just how many things in our lives are petroleum-derived. I think we would see a heck of a lot less venom.That’s all for tonight. It’s been a long day.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 9, 2007

  53. <>That is why the Tyson-COP partnership is critical.<>All the more reason to throw rocks at the pinheads in Washington. Or should that be <>pins<> at the <>rock<>heads?

    Comment by Optimist | August 9, 2007

  54. The comment re: Bird, Stewart & Lightfoot cracked me up. I took Transport from Stewart at Wisconsin, and boy, no gut class that! I’m an attorney now, but I continue to be grateful for the engineering education.re: Dr. Bruce Dale. He seems like a very nice man, but the corn growers appear to keep him on a very short leash. I attended an energy seminar aimed at legislators in Lansing and he was there; when I asked the main speaker (a state senator/farmer from MN) about EROEI for ethanol, the corn lobbyist literally leaped up and shouted “Bruce, I think you better answer that.” He came over to me and started giving me all the jive about counting distiller’s grains and how corn ethanol was just so much more energy positive than oil. It was pitiful. The guy has to be entirely dependent on corn dollars for his research money to be so servile.

    Comment by George Seldes | August 9, 2007

  55. <>The comment re: Bird, Stewart & Lightfoot cracked me up.<> Cool, is Warren Stewart still still alive? He seemed old when I was an undergraduate. Just the initials BSL will make most ChE’s shudder. Although I attended another midwestern university, I know UW-Madison well. I rowed for Randy Jablonic and spent many days on Lake Mendota. There was an italian restaurant on State Street near campus that had great lasagna. Checkered tablecloths, dripping candles in old chianti bottles – can’t remember the name of it though. I think ethanol is the state religion of Iowa, and most of the midwestern states. If you question the orthodoxy you are sure to be burned at the stake. Coming from a big ag school I once believed in ethanol too. Then I grew up.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  56. KOK:I seem to recall reading that Prof. Stewart is terrorizing undergrad angels now … could be wrong, but as you say, he was pretty up there in 1983, so I doubt he is discussing the Reynolds number anymore.The restaurant might have been Paisan’s. Great place.

    Comment by George Seldes | August 9, 2007

  57. <>I have often thought that it would be quite a reality check if everyone was forced to completely do without petroleum products for a month. I don’t think most people realize just how many things in our lives are petroleum-derived. I think we would see a heck of a lot less venom.<>While I agree that this would be a good exercise (even if it’s only as a thought experiment), but I doubt the effect on most people would be what you anticipate: Rubbing an addict’s nose in the fact of his addiction does not usually endear you to him.I think that the IOC’s bear a fair share of the blame for what is going on in places like Nigeria, and for the direction that they want to push American politics (ANWAR, anyone?). The excuse that “if it wasn’t them, it would be someone worse” is kind of weak. They have a tremendous amount of money and power, and I suspect that they could do more for the citizens of countries whose governments can’t be bothered, if they were motivated to do so.Having said that, the lion’s share of the blame, guilt and karma must necessarily devolve to the source of the demand for the black gold. The individual American consumer has bought a high material standard of living with the blood of foreign people and other species. They are the ones responsible for the tragedies that are, ultimately, being committed in the name.

    Comment by GreenEngineer | August 9, 2007

  58. Yes, it was Paisan’s! On University, I remember it being dark inside. Great pizza too. We’d get pizza and a six-pack of Stroh’s Fire Brewed Beer and then walk back to the Ag dorms where we were staying. Bruce Dale is a chemical engineer and should know better. Lately he has been changing the subject when asked about EROI. Now he wants to talk “quality” of fuel but conveniently forgets that ethanol proponents elevate DDGS to make the numbers work. < HREF="http://www.ncga.com/ethanol/pdfs/NetEnergyForumDale.pdf" REL="nofollow"> Bruce Dale: We come to Bury Net Energy not Praise It <> Give me a few trillion BTUs and a drilling rig and I’ll come back with maybe a quadrillion BTUs of oil or natural gas.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  59. <>Having said that, the lion’s share of the blame, guilt and karma must necessarily devolve to the source of the demand for the black gold. The individual American consumer has bought a high material standard of living with the blood of foreign people and other species. They are the ones responsible for the tragedies that are, ultimately, being committed in the name.<>No, I don’t think that is right.The people charged with looking out for ordinary Nigerians are the Nigerian leadership, not the American consumer. If Nigerians were looking out for their fellow Nigerians they would all be pretty well off.Nigeria’s (as indeed much of Africa’s) problem is that Nigerians don’t value other Nigerians’ lives. And tribalism doesn’t help.

    Comment by Optimist | August 9, 2007

  60. Last year ethanol production increased by 950 million gallons/A.Gasoline consumed increased by 2.2 billion gallons/A.Increasing average vehicle mileage from 20M/G to 22M/G would reduce consumption by 14 billion gallons/A.According to the Nation Corn Growers Asc. 2.15 billion bushels of corn were used to produce 4.855 (EIA) billion gallons of ethanol.That is only 2.26 gallons / bushel. So why do the ethanol advocates keep toting 2.8 G/B? 2.8 * 2.15 = 6.02 Billion gallons for 2006.NCGA projects 3.4 billion bushels for ethanol production in 2007. 2.26 * 3.4 = 7.68 billion gallons, or 501,000 barrels per day.So far 151 days of production in 2007 avg. 388,000 barrels per day. (EIA)3.4 * 2.8 would be 9.5 billion gallons for 2007, or 621,000 barrels per day.Cheers Dipchip

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007

  61. Greenengineer – I’ll turn the argument back on you. We know that some real despots run countries with oil. We have the technology to drill and produce oil in environmentally sensitive places in the US, yet we put those off limits, keeping the despots in power. What is right about that? Which do you think might be a cleaner operation, the Niger Delta or the 1002 Area in Alaska? There are places even the US won’t go, like Sudan. Yet that doesn’t stop the Chinese. The Chinese are enablers of genocide. I was troubled by what I saw in Africa. Americans are bound by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Antitrust, and U.S. anti-boycott laws. Our operations are much safer and more environmentally responsible than the solely African run enterprises I saw. Not as good as they would be in more developed countries, but we tried. So in the end I decided that we were a moderating influence on the Africans. But it is a very tough place to do business without getting sucked under by it.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 9, 2007

  62. <>The people charged with looking out for ordinary Nigerians are the Nigerian leadership, not the American consumer. If Nigerians were looking out for their fellow Nigerians they would all be pretty well off.Nigeria’s (as indeed much of Africa’s) problem is that Nigerians don’t value other Nigerians’ lives. And tribalism doesn’t help.<>And the people in charge of looking out for ordinary Americans are the American leadership. They aren’t, by many people’s lights, doing a very good job. But so what, we’re not American politicians, so it’s not our problem. Right?Your response reflects exactly the same sort of tribal mindset that you complain about in the Nigerians, just on a larger scale.

    Comment by GreenEngineer | August 10, 2007

  63. <>We have the technology to drill and produce oil in environmentally sensitive places in the US, yet we put those off limits, keeping the despots in power. What is right about that? Which do you think might be a cleaner operation, the Niger Delta or the 1002 Area in Alaska?<>You’re right, so far as it goes. We should despoil our own land for our benefit, rather than despoiling others’ lands. It’s dumb to shit in your own nest, but it’s evil to shit in the nest of your neighbor who can’t defend himself.On the other hand, the way you pose the question is very much like the folks (mostly nuke advocates) who demand that we choose between coal and nukes. It’s a false choice.

    Comment by GreenEngineer | August 10, 2007

  64. This whole EROEI of gasoline fap reminds me of when Richard Feynman took NASA to task(force) after the Challenger disaster.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman#Challenger_disaster

    Comment by Syn Diesel | August 10, 2007

  65. <>And the people in charge of looking out for ordinary Americans are the American leadership. They aren’t, by many people’s lights, doing a very good job. But so what, we’re not American politicians, so it’s not our problem. Right?Your response reflects exactly the same sort of tribal mindset that you complain about in the Nigerians, just on a larger scale.<>Not tribal at all.I think it is arrogant, and also racist, to assume that American consumers and leadership are responsible for what happens in Nigeria. What, these guys can’t do <>anything<> for themselves? Are you implying they depend on the White Man? Of couse not – the solutions to Africa’s problems are in Africans’ hands.I actually agree with you about the awful job the American leadership is doing, as a review of my postings would show. Hard to determine which of the three branches are the worst right now: just when you think the White House can’t be beat, Congress makes another terrible decision (including caving in to the White House on several occasions). Meanwhile the judicial branch is happy to cut back on the rights of ordinary Americans (remember last year’s terrible eminent domain ruling?).But, using your logic, we need to blame the Nigerians or the Chinese for all this.

    Comment by Optimist | August 10, 2007

  66. <>Increasing average vehicle mileage from 20M/G to 22M/G would reduce consumption by 14 billion gallons<>A step 10% reduction in fleetwide consumption per mile driven is impossible in a single year. Even if all 16 million vehicles sold next year ran on lawn clippings average fuel consumption would only drop about 8%.<>According to the Nation Corn Growers Asc. 2.15 billion bushels of corn were used to produce 4.855 (EIA) billion gallons of ethanol.<>RFA says 1.8 billion bushels, for a 2.7 gal/bu ratio. Perhaps NCGA’s number is based on the growing year instead of the calendar year. Policy discussions should use forward-looking numbers. I don’t know of any plants under construction aiming below 2.8 gal/bu and some are above 3.0.I agree the DDG energy credits are bogus. The alternative is using a fraction of the corn as feed. I can see crediting part of the corn growing and tranport energy, but it’s absurd to credit any of the distillation energy.

    Comment by doggydogworld | August 10, 2007

  67. DDGS has a much higher feed value than cracked corn. Comparing volumes or weight of feed products is like comparing a gallon of ethanol and gasoline without the energy equivalent correction. Also missing is a corn oil credit as defatted brewer’s grain is an even better feed. Starch and fat simply get turned into cow farts and mess-up the cow rumen metabolism (microbial population shifts, intestinal hypertrophy and thermogenic decoupling). I’d also add in a credit for offal biomass (animal fat green diesel) and manure. A total lifecycle balance would account for 1) primary production (corn) 2)biofuel refining and 3)feed to food conversion (energy recuperation as offal, manure and mineral fertilizer).

    Comment by Syn Diesel | August 10, 2007

  68. <> We should despoil our own land for our benefit, rather than despoiling others’ lands.<> So are you saying we can’t drill without spoiling the land? In 2007? We have active oil and gas wells in my neighborhood. Most people don’t even know. I can take you places where you wouldn’t know there were wells there and you wouldn’t be able to find the capped well until I told you where it was. This is one of the problems with oil companies image. People imagine “Jed Clampett shootin’ at some food” or J.R. Ewing. The industry is high tech and much cleaner than it was even 10-15 years ago. It is entirely possible to produce the oil in the 1002 Area and not “shit in your nest” as you so colorfully stated.

    Comment by KingofKaty | August 10, 2007

  69. <>DDGS has a much higher feed value than cracked corn.<>Really? The market prices a kcal of DDGS almost exactly the same as a kcal of corn (about 0.005 cents each). Since DDGS contains only one fourth as many calories as the original corn, this would argue the DDGS credit should be one fourth the corn growing and transport energy. That’s about 5,000 BTU per gallon ethanol vs. the 25-30,000 BTU/gal credit used by ethanol proponents.I’m OK saying the credit should be higher, perhaps even twice as high (i.e. 10,000 BTU/gal). But there’s no way the DDGS is worth MORE than the original corn — if it was beef, poultry and pork producers would be pro-ethanol instead of lobbying against it.

    Comment by doggydogworld | August 10, 2007

  70. <>This whole EROEI of gasoline fap reminds me of when Richard Feynman took NASA to task(force) after the Challenger disaster.<>I assume you mean that in a nice way. 🙂Non-government technical type points out flawed methodology of government scientists?Feynman was one of the all-time greats. He was certainly one of my favorites.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 10, 2007

  71. <>Bruce Dale is a chemical engineer and should know better.<>Some of those comments by Dale are so far out there that they can only be construed as spin. You are right; he is a nice guy. But things like this:<>U.S. has lots of coal & natural gas-but they don’twork in the gas tank- wrong energy “quality”<>are simply ludicrous. The U.S. has a large fleet of CNG vehicles. Dale is suggesting that natural gas is like coal, simply unusable unless it is inefficiently processed into ethanol. Interesting bit of trivia I found last year when looking at Brazil. While we sometimes think of Brazil as running on ethanol, they have 8 or 10 times the CNG vehicles that we have here in the U.S. I guess they have figured out that it’s better to burn the CNG directly than to inefficiently turn it into ethanol.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 10, 2007

  72. I just calculated the energy return for the coproduct DDGS. If you shift enough energy input to DDGS to make ethanol 1.67 on the energy return, it pushes DDGS down to the 0.6 range – 1 BTU in, 0.6 out. So, even though they are claiming DDGS coproduct credit, they keep the energy return on that piece out of sight.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 10, 2007

  73. Robert, if you read the Wiki entry, it’s virtually the same mental errors being made by techno-bureaucrats. Maybe if the subsidy and propaganda is gotten rid of the naturally smart innovators will get a chance to shine.Robert and doggydogworld, are your energy calculations based on feed conversion efficiency or just energy content? Starch and fat are dead weight (just ask any farmer how much cracked corn he can safely feed beef cattle, let alone a dairy cow) and the protein and micronutrients are the key values. Corn is convenient for industrial agriculture, not the cow’s gut. Pasture finished cattle do just as well if not better on “low energy” grass, especially when you look at body compartments (edible portion vs offal). I’ve seen feeding trials where the acre’s worth of by-product did just as well as the original acre’s worth of corn did when fed as a supplement ie 4x feed conversion ratio over corn.I’m thinking EROEI really is irrelevant for something you aren’t going to put into gas tank. The end product (milk and meat – food not feed) is where opportunity costs judgements should be made, not kcal energy content.

    Comment by Syn Diesel | August 10, 2007

  74. Robert,I can see that you are still engaging in censorship in your comments section. Is there any reason why you would want the readers to not think about the ecological holocaust which the oil industry is committing in the tar sands mining operations of Canada? I can understand why you would prefer that the readers not hear about the crimes against humanity which the oil industry is committing in Nigeria. The oil industry is one bloody industry. Ethics, morals and oil do not mix. Do they? Freedom of speech and oil don’t mix, either. You would much rather have the reader think in harmless terms such as EROEI than confront the ugly reality that oil is directly responsible for thousands of humans dying. Those who destroy the planet for profits hate their own children. David Mathews

    Comment by Anonymous | August 10, 2007

  75. Just thought of something. Shouldn’t we leave the cows to making cellulosic biofuels from switchgrass? 😉

    Comment by Syn Diesel | August 10, 2007

  76. <>I can see that you are still engaging in censorship in your comments section.<>Dave, the problem with that charge is that I let you rant just long enough for everyone to see that you had nothing of value to say. You are being “censored” in the same way as if I walked into your house, started spitting on your floor, and you kicked me out. This blog is about energy. If you were here trying to sell cars, tell us how to make cookies, or how to weave a scarf, I would delete the comments for the same reason that yours are now being deleted: You are adding nothing at all to the discussion; you are merely trying to disrupt all discussion. And the evidence is there for anyone to see, so that when you go crying that you are being censored, people will see all of the chances you were given, and they will say “You earned it.” I am not too concerned that anyone is going to think you were mistreated.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 10, 2007

  77. Hey, anon posts can be disabled, Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition (v. 2.0) did that after the Nazis moved in.* Ah, I see anon actually stimulated that to happen. 😉Anyhoo, I just wanted to leave a Google suggestion regarding feed values. One interesting option is hydroponic fodder. The so-called “Fodder Factory” from the 90s is still an option we can use to reorganize our energy-to-wealth economic decisions. The Solar Power greenhouses would be a great match. Conservation needs to happen not just in how we speed around in our cars but how we make our food. Some links:http://lists.ifas.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0207&L=sanet-mg&P=23225http://www.cyberhorse.com.au/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=show_thread&om=21380&forum=equestrian&viewmode=allhttp://nuffield.com.au/report_f/2002/Joe%20Mooney.pdf

    Comment by Syn Diesel | August 10, 2007

  78. <>Hey, anon posts can be disabled, Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition (v. 2.0) did that after the Nazis moved in.<>I know, but I don’t want to force everyone who wants to comment to register. Besides, you understimate Dave’s man-crush. He would just register so he could continue to flatter me with his attention.

    Comment by Robert Rapier | August 10, 2007

  79. “What that means is that the maximum theoretical displacement if you just found a lake of ethanol containing 116 million barrels would be 64 million barrels of oil.”But the net BTU from a barrel of oil are about 88%. So if the ethanol doesn’t have any petroleum then the displacement would be higher than the 64.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 10, 2007

  80. I think Aniya’s comments on theoildrum are very insightful and would really strenghten your case.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 10, 2007

  81. <>Robert and doggydogworld, are your energy calculations based on feed conversion efficiency or just energy content?<>SynDiesel, I calculate a 5,000 BTU/gal credit for DDGS based on the energy content in the feed. I guesstimate an “up to 10,000 BTU/gal” credit based on the theory that a calorie of DDGS is more valuable than a calorie of corn. Please note that market prices DO NOT support this theory — a kcal of DDGS and a kcal of corn cost about the same (0.005 cents).Perhaps farmers are stupidly overpaying for corn instead of using the vastly superior DDGS. In my experience farmer’s aren’t that dumb. If DDGS was vastly superior they’d switch to it en masse and drive the price up close to its “true value”.I don’t raise cows, chickens or pigs and thus have no firsthand experience, so I skimmed a few studies. As you noted you can’t feed cows 100% corn, but neither can you feed them 100% DDGS. So the studies tend to compare Corn+ABC vs. DDGS+XYZ. I didn’t see any advantages large enough to justify claims that DDGS is vastly superior. And once again, market prices support my view. If market prices change over time I’ll revisit my conclusions.Robert – I’m OK with banning David Matthews altogether. The EROEI of reading his posts is quite negative. 🙂

    Comment by doggydogworld | August 10, 2007

  82. Robert said: <>“Here’s my proposal. Three rounds, 2,000 word limit per round, with the debate hosted here, at your site, and at The Oil Drum. I suggest the debate resolution: “Corn Ethanol is Responsible Energy Policy.” I will take the negative. If you have an alternate proposal, I would be glad to entertain it.<>Robert,Dinneen will never take you up on that. Three years ago I exchanged several e-mails with him over the course of 3-4 weeks. I felt I was beating my head against the wall. He is not a scientist and doesn’t think analytically — he’s a lobbyist and PR flack and thinks like one.The point of our discussion was how corn ethanol could be called renwable when it’s production isn’t possible without consuming unrenewable resources. All he would do is continue to cite the EROEI of 1.67 from the Wang/Shapouri “study.”When I pointed out that any production system capable of returning 67% more energy than it consumed could be self-sustaining and would require no fossil fuel inputs, he just blustered and would never answer directly.I proposed to him and the RFA that if the 1.67 EROEI is real, then why doesn’t the ethanol industry set up a combination farm/ethanol plant that can continue running and producing ethanol without any fossil fuel inputs. His answer to my proposal, “What would be the point of that?” even after I pointed out that a succesful demonstration would immediately silence all ethanol naysayers.I would love to see you take him on, but he won’t do it. I’m sure he knows he would come out holding the smelly end of the stick. Best,Gary

    Comment by Gary Dikkers | August 12, 2007

  83. doggydogword said: <>Perhaps farmers are stupidly overpaying for corn instead of using the vastly superior DDGS. In my experience farmer’s aren’t that dumb. <>If DDGS was vastly superior<> they’d switch to it en masse and drive the price up close to its “true value”. I don’t raise cows, chickens or pigs and thus have no firsthand experience, so I skimmed a few studies. As you noted you can’t feed cows 100% corn, but neither can you feed them 100% DDGS.”<>DDGS is far from vastly superior as an animal feed, and there are serious limitations to its use. At best it’s a supplement to other animal feed. (For example, cattle aren’t that good at using DDGS — over tens of thousands of years they evolved to be grass eaters. They don’t do that well eating corn either without massive application of antibiotics.)The real problem with counting DDGS in the EROEI calculations is that with the scaling up of ethanol production now planned, there will be a glut of unused DDGS.On a microscale, all of the DDGS produced can be purchased by animal feeders and consumed.But when scaled up, there will be vast quantities of DDGS that no one will want, can use, or afford to haul away.It won’t be long until ethanol plants will look like old coal mines, but instead of being surounded by slag heaps as are the coal mines, the ethanol plants will be surrounded by piles of DDGS that the ethanol plants will not be able to get rid of. They will be reduced to drying it and burning it as a supplement to the thermal energy needs of their ethanol plants.I once proposed that scenario to Dr Pimental of Cornell, and he agreed completely.Best,Gary Dikkers

    Comment by Gary Dikkers | August 12, 2007

  84. Well, if Bug Dr Pimental agrees…. 😉If animals can eat all of the feed corn produced now, they can certainly eat all of the left-over 25% of the corn produced in the form of DDGS. And yes, it’s just a supplement similiar to the orginal corn. One reason it’s use must be limited (on a percentage of feed basis, not total use) is it’s fat level. Hence the innovation of defatted brewer’s grain with corn oil biodiesel as a co-product.

    Comment by Syn Diesel | August 13, 2007

  85. Here is a copy of an email I sent to the RFARFAI would like to see Bob Dinneen take up Robert Rapier’s offer to debate. Robert Rapier makes a very compelling case that some of the numbers your organization quotes are inaccurate. While I believe that ethanol adds to our energy security, I do not believe it is sound policy to overstate its benefit. I believe honesty and openness about energy issues are vital to the nation’s security and therefore urge Bob Dineen to debate Robert Rapier.Respectfully,Michael Amos

    Comment by Anonymous | August 14, 2007


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: