The Chemistry of Ethanol
By David Henderson
As you know if you’ve followed ethanol in the last decade, the federal government requires a certain amount of ethanol in gasoline.
Glen Whitman, a friend on Facebook, posted the following and gave me permission to post on EconLog.
My dad, a chemical engineer, wrote the following back in 2011, the last time ethanol mandates were in the news:
· It takes more energy to make ethanol from corn than you get from the ethanol.
· Corn requires a whole lot of fertilizer, and the runoff goes into the Mississippi River and runs down to the Gulf of Mexico, where it creates a dead zone the size of New Jersey.
· A gallon of ethanol has only about 2/3 the energy of a gallon of gasoline; hence, your miles per gallon will decrease if you use gasoline containing ethanol.
· Making corn into ethanol for our cars is tantamount to burning our food, and it is driving up the cost of the food left to eat. Corn is a staple food for hogs, cattle, sheep, and chickens, so the cost of all meat and poultry are going up, along with the cost of corn itself.
· Ethanol loves water and soaks it up from its environment, so it can’t be shipped in long-distance pipelines with gasoline, because the water will corrode the piping and pumping machinery. The ethanol will dry out pump seals. Consequently, it has to be transported in trucks at a higher cost and mixed with the gasoline near the end-use consumer market.
· The only good reason for making corn into ethanol is for whiskey.