Ethanol, Anyone? How About Nuclear?

One motorist who has noticed the effect that ethanol has on mileage is Cleo Campbell of Stewartsville, Mo. “I’ve been driving a long time,” he said, “and I know what I normally get, and I don’t get that now.”

In the post following this one, which I wrote yesterday, I discussed the escalating price of gasoline, and in a discussion with Jay in the comments that followed, we talked about the subject of drilling and other facets of the issue. Yesterday–must have been around the same time I was writing this column–Mervi made pertinent comments about both ethanol and nuclear energy.

Ethanol is an alternative fuel, that for a period of time was seen as quite promising. Its use does result in less pollution. Now, though, its glitter seems to have faded, for it actually is no cheaper in the long run than is using gasoline. More quantity is required, and at today’s cost, actually adds $200.00 yearly to fuel cost.

Then there is the shortage of food problem.

Corn is used to produce ethanol, and it is estimated that this year 139 million tons of corn will be used for that purpose. Because of the high cost of diesel fuel, truckers are now striking; this of course will add to the cost of food and other products.
I’m of the thought that we must continue our research into renewable fuel sources, and that we must push past the objections of environmental extremists and utilize our own natural resources. As I stated in my comments to Jay, I believe America would be a safer place if we weren’t so dependent on Mid-Eastern oil.
For a long time, I was terrified when I heard raised the subject of nuclear energy. But recently as I have read more, I have come to understand that nuclear energy may indeed be a viable consideration, and actually is thought to be quite safe.
The famous bottom line forces us to consider:
** The world is demanding more oil than is available, thus its price increase.
** The “work-arounds” include:
Drive less
Manufacturers produce more fuel-efficient cars
Drive vehicles which use less fuel
Find alternate fuels
Supply our own oil
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.
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My devotional blog is here.

14 thoughts on “Ethanol, Anyone? How About Nuclear?

  1. Hi, Linda–

    If we ever start moving strongly away from petroleum, it will be interesting to see how it will affect our economy. That would be such a change, it’s hard to imagine.

    Hey–speaking of the hydrogen engine, you’re not of the mind that “certain people” try to prevent such progression are you?

    Be good…

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  2. Given all the current energy alternatives, I am a proponent of nuclear energy. I do believe though, that there is a potentially viable hydrogen engine out there somewhere that for whatever reason is not being developed to be available to the average consumer. And, if it WERE, what would happen to our economy were the oil companies suddenly to lose the “gasoline for vehicles” piece of the energy pie?

    It’s not just finding an alternative, but to safely move from an petroleum based economy to one that is much less so. It could be a disaster unless the transition is made carefully.

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  3. In all of my research and in committee testimony it quickly became apparent that ethanol is not the solution. Wind energy is a no-go in my opinion also. See various posts on the subject that detail the high cost, outrageous government (taxpayer) subsidies, and unreliability of windpower. I agree with you that nuclear energy is a viable option, along with drilling in a limited area of Alaska. Of the upmost priority is our personal responsibility to conserve, recycle, and reuse. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts on this important social issue.

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m always glad to hear from you. I so agree with your statement about personal responsibility, for it is not right to depend on the government to supply all our needs. Don’t believe our founders ever intended such.

    Be well….

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  4. Everybody–let me know what kind of new car you buy. Green, Hybrid, nuclear…wind?

    We have so much wind here in Lake Havasu, I believe if I had one of those windmill devices and could hook it up to a battery, and shove all that windy energy into the battery, and connect the battery to my Jeep Cherokee, I should have enough power to scoot all over town. 🙂

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  5. Shirley,
    I am in agreement with you, hybrids are not beauties. Their look odd but the aerodynamic design helps reduce drag when it moves through the air as it pushes down the road. I’ve seen a lot of hybrids in green tones lately, and I wonder if that is to make a ecology statement about going “green”.

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  6. Jay Burns is so right, “It is an exciting time to be alive.” I actually think any time must have been or will be an exciting time to be alive. Life is grand.

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  7. I’ve seen some pretty neat options out there even a vehicle powered entirely on compressed air. Pretty cool. Hydrogen may be a solution, even solar for short trips. I think in the future we will be moving away from a single standard and see many alternatives take to the highway.

    If you don’t need the space buy electric, or compressed air. If you need to travel distances perhaps you’ll buy hydrogen or solar. Yet some will still feel the need to purchase gasoline or diseil fuel. I do know that hard times and high gas prices will breed innovation. It is an exciting time to be alive.

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  8. I am far less concerned with the environmental and health risks associated with ethenol only because I don’t think it is viable. We can not produce enough corn to make it economical or even to meet the demand. I think it can relieve some of the pinch between developing realistic solutions.

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  9. I do have some concerns about going to an Ethanol fuel. I did some quick research and here are some points that I found of interest.

    Ten Myths about Ethanol

    http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2006/tc20060519_225336.htm

    I am not real crazy about Wikipedia, yet here is some quick information on the subject.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel#Air

    Pollution
    A study by atmospheric scientists at Stanford University found that E85 fuel would increase the risk of air pollution deaths relative to gasoline.[57] Ozone levels are significantly increased, thereby increasing photochemical smog and aggravating medical problems such as asthma.[58][59]

    Manufacture
    In 2002, monitoring of ethanol plants revealed that they released VOCs (volatile organic compounds) at a higher rate than had previously been disclosed.[60] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) subsequently reached settlement with Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, two of the largest producers of ethanol, to reduce emission of these VOCs. VOCs are produced when fermented corn mash is dried for sale as a supplement for livestock feed. Devices known as thermal oxidizers or catalytic oxidizers can be attached to the plants to burn off the hazardous gases. Smog causing pollutants are also increased by using ethanol fuel in comparison to gasoline.[citation needed
    [edit] Fuel system problems
    Several of the outstanding ethanol fuel issues are linked specifically to fuel systems. Fuels with more than 10% ethanol are not compatible with non E85-ready fuel system components and may cause corrosion of ferrous components.[93][94] Ethanol fuel can negatively affect electric fuel pumps by increasing internal wear,[94] cause undesirable spark generation,[95] and is not compatible with capacitance fuel level gauging indicators and may cause erroneous fuel quantity indications in vehicles that employ that system.[96] It is also not always compatible with marine craft, especially those that use fiberglass fuel tanks.[97][98]
    Using 100% ethanol fuel decreases fuel-economy by 15-30% over using 100% gasoline; this can be avoided using certain modifications that would, however, render the engine inoperable on regular petrol without the addition of an adjustable ECU.[99] Tough materials are needed to accommodate a higher compression ratio to make an ethanol engine as efficient as it would be on petrol; these would be similar to those used in diesel engines which typically run at a CR of 20:1,[100] versus about 8-12:1 for petrol engines.[101]
    In April 2008 the German environmental minister cancelled a proposed 10% ethanol fuel scheme citing technical problems: too many older cars in Germany are unequipped to handle this fuel. Ethanol levels in fuel will remain at 5%.[102]

    Mervi

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  10. On an individual basis, all we can do is drive less or buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, which means, of course, we have to eliminate things that are important to us. Sometimes eliminating things won’t save us an money. For example, we take Christmas gifts with us to MO. If we have a smaller car, we’ll have to pay UPS to get them there. You could start a new church in your basement rather than another city. Save lots of driving. But is that what you want to do?

    The rest is up to the powers that be. The powers that be don’t want to solve the problem, because it means less money for them. Politicians are in bed with big oil. Vote for better people. Oh, wait, they’re busy teaching school (or at least they were).

    And dig in Alaska? Shirley. Alaska is the last pristine part of America. No. No. No.

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  11. As humans, we all have different thoughts on the alternative solution to our fuel crisis. Here’s a site that might be of interest and allows one to draw their own conclusions. It’s at: http://www.hybridcars.com/shop-by-technology PS: Shirley, so glad you are bringing this topic to the forefront.

    Karen, thank you for this great link. Since you and your husband are researching this subject, do you know the answer to this? Why are the hybrid cars “funny” looking? Do they all appear strange, or is it just the ones I have noticed?

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