Recent news worrying the use of corn waste or residual products to produce commercially practical ethanol reminds me of a video game of checkers. One dive forward, one jump backwards, one relocation sideways. Depending how clever, bored or prone to sobbing the gamers are, the video game typically results in either a stalemate or a wonderful victory, particularly remarkable when it s your grandson or granddaughter.
Fortunately! The American-owned POET and the Dutch-owned Royal DSM opened the very first center in Iowa that produces cellulosic ethanol from corn waste (not your favorite corn on the cob), just the 2nd in the U.S. to commercially produce cellulosic ethanol from farming waste, according to James Stafford s current article in OilPrice.com (Sept. 5).
The brand-new owners jumped (keep in mind the analogy to checkers my readers are intense) with happiness. They revealed, perhaps, a bit too soon, that the joint task, called Job LIBERTY, is the first step in transforming our economy, our environment and our nationwide security. After their news release, fast, normally positive, comments came from electric and hydrogen fuel makers, CNG producers, advocates of natural gas-based ethanol and an entire host of other replacement fuel lovers. The remarks showed the high hopes and imagine leaders of public interest groups, some in the business community, several think tanks and lots of in the government who see transitional replacement fuels reducing U.S. dependency on oil and all at once enhancing the economy and environment. A number of were fuel agnostic as long as increased competition at the pump provided a range of fuels at lower expenses to consumers and reduced environmental damage to the nation.
Ethanol from corn waste, if the conversion could be made quickly and if it led to less expenses than gasoline, would mute stress in between those who argue that usage of corn for ethanol would restrict food products and offer consumers a bargain, expense wise. The cowboys and the farmers might even consume the very same table. (Sorry, Mr. Hammerstein.).
Life is never ever easy. Generally, when a replacement fuel seems to use competition to gas, the API (American Petroleum Institute supported by the oil market) immediately tries to examine the advocates of replacement fuel. The association didn t dissatisfy. It made a clever jump of its own with a complicated relocation sort of a bait and switch move.
API s check and jump is shown in their quote to Scientific American. It showed, in holier-than-thou tones, API supports making use of innovative biofuels, including cellulosic biofuels, when they are commercially feasible and in demand by customers. But EPA must end mandates for these fuels that put on t even exist. Wow, how subtle. API supports and then denies!
What a bunch of hokum! Given their back-handed endorsement of advanced biofuels, would API and its fans among oil companies accept end their unnecessary federal government tax aids simultaneously with EPA s reductions or ending of mandates? Would API and its advocates accept add provisions to franchise agreements that would enable gas station owners or managers to locate ethanol from cellulosic biofuels in a central visible pump? Would API work with advocates of replacement fuels to open up the gas market to replacement fuels and competition? Would API agree to a collective research study of the effect of corn-based residue as the primers of ethanol with supporters of residue obtained ethanol, a study consisting of refereed, independent critics, and comply with the outcomes? If you address no to all of these questions, you would be right. API, in impact, is clearly attempting to leap fans of corn-based residual ethanol and obstruct them from producing and marketing their item. Alternatively, if you think the answer is yes to several of the questions, you will wait a very long time for anything to occur and I will use to sell you the Golden Gate Bridge and more.
The supporters and producers of cellulosic-based ethanol from corn waste (next move) were suggested by overheard consultants to API. These advisors from the oil industry cheered API s last move and noted that a recent study in Nature Climate Change, a highly regarded peer-reviewed journal, recommended that biofuels made from corn residue emit 7 percent more greenhouse gases in early years than fuel and does not fulfill existing energy laws. They desired checkerboard pieces held by advocates of corn residue off the policy board.
Oh, however the fans are sensible! They don t give in right away. They indicated an EPA analysis which shows that utilizing corn residue to protect ethanol fulfills existing energy laws and most likely produces much, much less carbon than gasoline. Research studies like the one reported in Nature Climate Modification do not, according to an EPA spokesperson, report on lifecycle modifications in an appropriate method from pre-planting, through production, mixing, circulation, retailing produce and usage. Moreover, a current analysis moneyed by DuPont soon to open a new cellulosic residue to ethanol facility shows that utilizing corn residue to produce ethanol will be 100 percent much better than gas, concerning GHG emissions. (Supporters were a bit reluctant about shouting out DuPont s involvement in funding the study. It is a chemical business with a blended environmental record. However after review, advocates suggested it looked like a good analysis.).
The reaction of supporters and its intensity caused API and its advisors to withdraw their insistence, that the checkers of the advocates of corn based residue obtained ethanol come of the board. Instead, they requested a two-hour break in the game. The residue folks were scared. API was a devious group. What were they up too?.
When the video game started once again, both advocates and challengers pulled out great deals of competing studies, before they made their moves. The only things they agreed on was that the degree of land usage dedicated to corn, combined with the way farmers handle the soil and the residue, likely would substantially affect GHG emissions. Keeping a strategic amount of residual on the soil would help reduce emissions.
Fans of corn-based residue argued for a fast collective study that might help bridge the analysis space. However they wanted a bonafide commitment from API that if corn-based residual, obtained ethanol, showed much better than gasoline, it would support it as a transitional replacement fuel. No soap! The game ended in a stalemate.
Based upon speaking with professionals and surveying much of the literature, I think that the fictional checkers game tilts towards corn residual derived ethanol, assuming considerable attention is approved by farmers to management of the soil and the residue. Whether corn residual-based ethanol ends up being competitive as a transitional replacement fuel will be based mainly on farmer intelligence, customer and political acceptance and a set of even playing field guidelines. It, along with natural gas-based ethanol, as I have actually written in previous columns, deserve a set of demonstration efforts. The nation will have an extended wait till electric and hybrid vehicles make a big dent relating to the share of the overall variety of vehicles in America. We have a moral responsibility to do the best we understand how to do to lower GHG emissions and other contaminants. We shouldn t let the nearly best in our future reduce the possible good now.