Monday, March 03, 2008

More Ethanol Issues

I have posted a few times about Ethanol as fuel (here, here, and here) and as you can probably tell I am not a fan. Not because I am philosophically opposed, but because it isn't a very good fuel. Ethanol delivers about 80% as much power / unit as gasoline or diesel and it is energy and land intensive to manufacture. Well now there is another problem that I should have though of but overlooked. As posinted out in this weeks Economist
it takes about a frazillion gallons of water to run an Ethanol plant.

A typical ethanol factory producing 50m gallons of biofuels a year needs about 500 gallons of water a minute. Most of that goes into the boiling and cooling process, which is similar to making beer. Some water is lost through evaporation in the cooling tower and in waste discharge. All this is putting a heavy burden on aquifers in some corn-growing areas.

As we used to say in Montana that's a lot of f**kin' water. Actually for 50,000,000 gallons of Ethanol you need 131,400,000 gallons of water or almost a 3 to 1 ratio. Pretty awesome huh?

Don't get me wrong oil shale extraction and coal liquification are water intensive also but you get more bang for you buck.

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