Flex fuel solution

If you have read this…

Breaking OPEC?s Grip

A flex-fuel mandate would stop the U.S from funding its enemies.

By Robert Zubrin

It seems so simple…what’s the catch ?

The catch is in the FLEX part. If all the corn crop in the US was converted to ethanol, it would only supply about 8% of gasoline needs. If all the soybean crop was converted to biodiesel, it would supply less than 10% of diesel needs.

At this time, Canada (the largest supplier), Mexico, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia are not US enemies. It’s true that the 9-11 terrorists were mostly Saudis financed by oil money.

GM tried to get the government to give them fuel mileage (CAFE) credits for producting these vehicles, even though the fuel was hardly available. Cooler heads prevailed.

In addition there is a worldwide firestorm developing about turning scarce food into motor fuel and devoting cropland to growing fuel instead of more food.

Beware of primitve, simplistic slogans; every dictator who ever lived has used them to his advantage! In the 50s we blamed all our problems on the Communists!

The best way to stop funding your “enemies” is to use less fuel and buy a smaller car.

There isn’t enough food stock to manufactur E85 and cellulosic ethanol is not available yet. Besides, food is for eating, not fuel.

I guess we haven’t read the article. Flex fuel includes ALL alcohol based fuels including those from coal and natural gas as well as an abundance of waste products (wood chips/road surface material etc.) the list goes on. A near term solution, it would encourage competition were now there is NONE for oil based fuels for transportation. Flex fuel mandates cost minimal amounts to transfer existing engines to, and open sources where America is strongest.

A market that uses 25% of the worlds oil would now run on flex fuel and force WORLD competition from nations that are friendly. Australia is an ALCOHOL goldmine. OPEC dies a slow painful death…none too early.

It’s a question of national defense. Please read the article.

The point in this approach is…create the market FIRST, then let the free enterprise system take over. We now have to subsidize the production of ethanol from food sources…a backwards approach because there is no sustainable market to generate the nearterm profit needed. Alcohol based fuel production is low tech. A small business approach could get you started and make an immediate profit if the market drives by your business daily .

I would think that the free enterprise approach should be applauded on this forum. It’s a no brainer.

There is certainly an incentive now to get more fuel from cellulose and other inedible vegetable matter. The best we can hope for, however, that the US weans itself off imported oil to save the dollar from collapsing.

As for bringing OPEC to its knees, that will happen when OPEC’s reverves are exhausted, no sooner. Canada and several other counTries are already developing ethanol from twitchgrass, cellulose and other matter. The aim of this is to SUPPLEMENT expensive and increasingly scarce oil, not to displace it completely; that would be impossible in the next 50 years at least.

As Germany proved in WW II and South Africa during the Apartheid embargo, you can make gasoline fromcoal, which the US has plenty of. It’s all a matter of cost, and time to build the plants!

If you want the long term outlook, I recommend a book called “Sustainable Fossil Fuels” by Marc Jaccard. He takes a very courageous 100 year look into the future and examines ALL forms of energy and concludes that coal and gas will outlast oil, and that renewables will play a role but not a major one.

If the US is really worried abour national security, the first move would be to get people out of their big cars, support all alternate energy development, and so ease out of Middle East imports,and put more money into Canada to get “friendly” oil.

I agree that alternate sources of gasoline are important, but don’t make them from natural gas; the US is a significant importer of this, and when Canadian imports dry up in 15 years, the imports will have to come from RUSSIA and th MIDDLE EAST; hardly secure alternatives!!

So there are options, but don’t dream about bringing OPEC to its knees. Oil is forcast to reach $250 a barrel before alternatives even start biting into worldwide consumption.

But I do agree that the US has the best chance to develop these alternatives, and gasoline form coal, since it has vast reserves!

I read it and I haven’t changed my mind. There is considerable work needed on cellulosic alcohol production. I see no reason why we should have to buy flex fuel vehicles at this time on the promise that we might have inexpensive alcohol in the far future. Yes, far future. Alcohol can’t be made from corn stalks yet. After it can be, pilot plants will be built to optimize production methods. Finally, full scale plants will be built to produce alcohol. It seems to me that it will take 10 to 20 years before there is large-scale cellulosic alcohol production. Why should I buy a flex fuel car now?

Why not ?

It STILL burns gasoline and the difference in price for such an engine is negligible. With that kind of fuel “freedom” YOU decide, not OPEC. Methanol production would come on line within two years by small “start ups” using any biomass including garbage. Buy your fuel at road side stands or traditional pumps. If the product is there…the source will find it’s way. Look how fast Ipod accessories came on line when “everyone” owned an Ipod. The market “will” provide the fuel. It’s LOW TECH. We used to arrest people for selling their own corn liquor…now we can use it to fuel our cars.

Do you want to be tied to gasoline when flex fuel is so advantageous ?

You all are still thinking backwards waiting for Texico or BP to open a local station. The only problem is the loss of tax revenue…govt. will find some imaginative way to make up the difference.

The key is in the demand of flex fuel cars.

Still yet to hear a ligit argument against.

Also…within a week of passage of mandatory flex fuel auto production, I feel oil prices would stabilize and begin dropping. The break even point for FF is $50 a barrel. It’s a long way down…it will happen. This discussion is mute as I predict that some form of mandate WILL happen within the next 5 years along these lines.

The key is to get it out of major corp./ govt. subsidized control and into free enterprise.

More simple. We all use less.

Methanol is not an option, it is not compatible with any current vehicles. It is corrosive and highly volatile. Ethanol from food has proven to be a disaster. So, now we’re talking ethanol from other sources. This technology has been pursued for decades, and is slowly developing, but won’t suddenly be available in large volumes.

Dream along! Although the US consumes 20% of the world’s oil, the other 80% are not into flex fuels, and are increasing their consumption rapidly, with he exception of Western Europe. You seem to be stuck in the mindset tah US consumers can influence the world price of oil. That may have been true some time in the past, 1948-1972, when the US had 50% of the world’s auto fleet. Those days are long gone.

It would be nice of oil dropped to $50 a barrel, but that would require a world-wide depression, with you and I suffering severely. At this time with economic growth slowing, we are seeing a temporary drop in oil prices, and mist experts expect a drop to maybe $120 to wring some of the speculative money out of the system.

As long as world demand keeps increasing, and world production does not increase, we are looking at HIGER PRICES in the futue, even if most of the US goes on some alternative fuel. Oil producing countries that should be increasing their production, but are actually decreasing thei output:

  1. Mexico
  2. The USA
  3. Nigeria
  4. Great Britain
  5. Russia
  6. China
  7. Iraq

Canada is one of the very few Non-OPEC countries increasing oil production! It’s also the US’s major supplier.

The cost of producing oil is now no longer directly related to the market price because of future shortages.

So, good luck with your $50 barrel forecst.

I have a 2002 Flex Fuel Ford Explorer and used to fill up with Ethanol E-85 every chance I got. But too many stations are gouging and it’s not worth it to me. E-85 gives me 20-30% less mileage depending on city/highway driving and needs to be priced at least 30% less than regular fuel to justify the loss.

Not only that but there is only so much farmland that can be used to grow crops for fuel and I am not happy about rising food prices. Ethanol is only part of the solution. I keep hearing how we need to be more like Brazil, they solved their problems by mandating flex fuel engine in all cars. But those making these statements fail to mention that they also are drilling for more oil too. E-85 is after all 15% gasoline, and in the winter it is actually E-75 25% gasoline. E-85 is also subsidized so there is no road use tax to fund highways. As use of E-85 increases, revenue for highways will decrease.

Have you bought one yet?

You seem to be stuck in the mindset tah US consumers can influence the world price of oil.

You better believe it…you all seem to be stuck in the “powerless to do anything mode”. The market will follow demand.

This time next year when legislation is being discussed and within two years past…I’ll be here to say “I told you so”. The high price of crude, I believe is a “response” to the upcoming technology, one of them being flex fuels.
Hold on guys ! Within five years you will be able to buy autos with power systems of your choice, not OPEC’s.

Why has no one mentioned sugarcane? Sugarcane is a natural for biofuels because it does not require the intermediate step that corn does to turn it into sugar. Brazil has been using sugarcane for years now to produce alcohol fuel. But there’s an added bonus for the U.S.! For years the U.S. government has been subsidizing the U.S. sugar industry with direct cash subsidies and high tarriffs on foreign sugar. By turning domestic sugar production toward biofuel, you massively increase the profits of domestic sugar producers, allowing subsidies to be reduced and eventually eliminated. Also, by eliminating tarriffs on imported sugar, you lower the price of sugar for the consumer. It’s a win-win situation. The only roadblock is the farm lobby, which is seeing increased profits from their production of biofuels and would fight efforts to switch some of that to the sugarcane farmers, but if it was explained to them that none of their current production would be cut into, but that the production from sugar would be in addition to the biofuels already being produced, that should help placate them. If not, the congress could delicately explain that the massive farm subsidies that were just signed into law by President Bush could easily not be renewed next year if they choose to continue to make an issue of this.

Ethanol from sugarcane is one of the few biofuel success stories. Brazil has been doing it for 30 yeras, and the conversion rate is very good. If enough land is available in he South, by all means let’s crank up a sugar/ethanol industry! But don’t expect it to provide more than 10% of gasoline demand at best.

Yea, one part of the problem is it is not cheap to make and much of the production cost is … Oil based fuels.

I’m not against buying a flex fuel car; At some time in the future there may be areas, like Hawaii, or Louisiana, where there is lots of bio fuel. Where I and other differ, I believe, is that not any one country can influenc the world proice of oil. If you think $50/barrel biofuel will bring down the world price of oil, think again. The production cost of oil in Saudi Arabia is still only $1 or less from existing fields. Production in less efficient fields of conventional oil is still under $10/barrel. More difficult oil costs $25 to produce and new oil from oil sands in Canada, the major source of US imports, is about $45-$55/ barrel. This whole mix sells for $132/ barrel as of this morning, and the price has nothing to do with production costs, and everything with anticipated growth in demand in the absence of growth in supply.

Neither US consumers or anyone else can idividually do anything about this. However, the addition of a new supply of 1 million barrels a day of “flex fuel” every year for the next 10 years would be necessary to bring the price down to $50. That’s 10,000,000 barrels/day of new production from alternative sources. I’ll let you calculate how much arable land that would take, or how many oil from coal plants.

The scenario I just mentioned will happen, about 20-25 years from now and gas will sell for about $8-9/gallon adjusted for inflation, in the US.

In summary, alternate fuels are needed to reduce imports, but the biggest gains will be in less driving and taxing drivers out of their gas guzzlers.

One other problem with sugar cane - chopping down the rain forests to grow it. Not a harmless solution. Brazil’s been doing so well because they’ve also been one of the big growth spots in oil production.

Is there enough arable land for sugarcane in the US? I don’t think so. Otherwise there would be a lot of ethanol derived from sugarcane since you get a lot more alcohol per acre with sugarcane than corn.