An E-Fuel MicroFueler Dealer Responds

After publishing the previous story, I went back and searched through my Gmail to see when I had first heard about the E-Fuel MicroFueler. It turns out that about a year ago a regular reader of my blog – and someone I had exchanged a number of e-mails with – sent me the first bit of information and asked for my opinion. He told me at that time that he had become a dealer of these systems.

At the time, the idea was to use sugar as the feedstock. I made a number of comments, including my concern that the capital costs alone were too high to make the unit economical. I said that I felt like they would need to get capital costs down by 2/3rds, and I questioned several assumptions in the economics. Further, I flagged up a concern that people who couldn’t program their VCRs would be expected to produce ethanol in their garage. On the other hand, I did favor the idea of localized production of fuel (and still do).

Following the previous essay in which I pulled no punches, we exchanged several e-mails. I told him that I felt like what was being presented about the MicroFueler’s capabilities bordered on fraud. In response, he said he wanted to clarify a number of points raised in the L.A. Times article that I addressed. Since he is not authorized to speak on behalf of E-Fuel, he will not be identified and this will be his opinion – and not the official company position. One of my core principles is to allow people to respond to my criticisms, so in the interest of fairness, I present excerpts of his response to me.

On the topic of the government picking up half the cost, he wrote:

Section 30C of the US Internal Revenue Code (as amended by the Stimulus Act) provides an income tax credit of 50% (up to $50,000) for a taxpayer to install “Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Equipment” as long as the fuel is used in a “trade or business”. Individuals can qualify for a credit of up to $2,000. This credit applies to commercial E-85 pumps, natural gas refueling equipment, hydrogen, biodiesel, and yes, even MicroFuelers. The credit also applies to other “turn-key” ethanol fuel production/dispensing solutions. The same government that provides these incentives is the same one that gives incentives to the petroleum industry for exploration, infrastructure, research & development, etc. Fair is fair.

If individuals qualify for $2,000, then that puts the out of pocket cost at $8,000 – and not the $5,000 that I have seen mentioned again and again.

Regarding my comment about people being trusted to put the correct amounts of ethanol in their vehicles, he wrote:

There was a study by the University of North Dakota that looked at the ability of unmodified non-flex fuel vehicles to run on ethanol/gasoline blends. The study showed that these vehicles could run quite well on high-level blends such as E-50, E-60, etc. The study also looked at fuel economy when using these various blends and concluded that blends of E-20 or E-30 might well be the “optimal” blend in terms of overall fuel economy for non-flex fuel vehicles, but the results tended to be different for each make/model/year vehicle tested.

“Optimal” in the real world translates (and this is very important) into two things:
1. Lowest net cost per mile (including vehicle manufacture & upkeep)
2. Lowest net “well to wheel” emissions per mile (including vehicle manufacture & upkeep)

Optimal Ethanol Blend-Level Investigation

Unfortunately, it didn’t address the question of vehicle longevity, but we have many real-world data points that support our position that ethanol is unlikely to cause any problems.

We know that most vehicles built after 1989 have parts that are ethanol compatible (fuel pumps, fuel injectors, fuel lines, etc). In fact, if you compare part numbers between today’s “flex fuel” and “non-flex fuel” vehicles, you’ll find the exact same part number used in both applications. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about whether ethanol can be used in non-flex fuel vehicles – but the fact is that we’ve been using high-level ethanol blends (up to E100) in a number of unconverted non-flex fuel vehicles with no problems except the occasional “Check Engine” light… and the only reason the Check Engine light comes on is because the on-board ECU thinks that the fuel system is putting too much fuel into the engine so it assumes there is a problem when, in fact, there really isn’t. It’s just that the ECU was never programmed to take the possibility of using ethanol (lower energy density) into account. In these cases, the “Check Engine” light is a false indication of a non-existent problem.

I am familiar with the University of North Dakota study. It was paid for by the American Coalition for Ethanol. I think we would agree that if an anti-ethanol result was found as a result of research funded by the American Petroleum Institute, ethanol proponents wouldn’t accept that at face value.

The study has been widely spun as showing that an optimal ethanol blend was E20 or E30. But I looked at the report, and previously commented on it at TOD. Here were some of my comments on this paper:

I took some time to review this paper again. This is what I see from the ethanol tests. Look at Figures 10-13. Here is the reality of the tests:

Figure 10. 2007 Toyota Camry, 2.4-L engine – 6 of 7 tests show worse fuel efficiency on an ethanol blend. There is one apparent outlier, which was the basis for the claims. (And it looks like a classic outlier, with almost all of the other points falling as predicted).

Figure 11. 2007 Chevrolet Impala (non-flex fuel), 3.5-L engine – 5 of 5 tests show worse fuel efficiency on an ethanol blend.

Figure 12. 2007 Chevrolet Impala (flex fuel), 3.5-L engine – 8 tests, 2 show better fuel efficiency, 2 show the same, and 3 show worse fuel efficiency on an ethanol blend.

Figure 13. 2007 Ford Fusion, 2.3-L engine – 4 of 5 tests show worse fuel efficiency on an ethanol blend. There is one apparent outlier.

So, what can we conclude? Of 25 data points, 18 confirm that the fuel economy is worse on an ethanol blend. That is 72% of the tests, and these tests were paid for by the ethanol lobby (which is why I suspect the results were spun as they were). The outliers are interesting enough for further investigation, but you have vastly overstated the test results. In reality, if you pulled the results out of a bag, you have only a 28% chance of improving your fuel efficiency on the basis of any particular test. Further, the outlier didn’t always occur at the same percentage, which would be quite problematic even if the result is confirmed.

On the L.A. Times article itself, and my claim that the author had been duped:

“Duped” might be a bit strong, but there were certainly a few problems with the article. I’m not sure if Tom/Chris misspoke or if they were misquoted (I wasn’t there), but the inaccuracies should have been identified and cleared-up before the article went to press. Incorrect? Perhaps in some ways. Misleading? Maybe. Intentionally misleading (fraud)? No… I’m confident that there was no intent by E-Fuel or GreenHouse to be misleading. I think it’s unfair to expect any journalist to have the same level of technical knowledge and industry experience that we have, so I’m prepared to live and let live when an article doesn’t get everything exactly right. The fact is that nobody “lied” here, and there’s really no way to control what gets printed. No journalist in the world would allow us to review the article before it goes to print.

I agree that someone with more experience could have handled the interviews or at least reviewed the article before it went to press. And perhaps an “interview” isn’t the best way to present the concepts that were discussed. Maybe a “press sheet” or “whitepaper” would be more appropriate. We (the biofuels industry in general) need to be careful to properly manage customer expectations because, ultimately, failure to do so could seriously undermine our credibility.

Regarding my comment that a big ethanol refinery would be more efficient:

Energy efficiency of huge biorefineries isn’t going to be much different than in the MicroFueler. It takes a certain amount of energy to distill no matter what quantities we’re talking about. Take a look at Floyd’s 1982 design and then look at the MicroFueler design and you’ll see it’s pretty well thought out. Where “the big boys” have a definite advantage is there economies of scale with respect to capital costs. Where we have a huge advantage is the cost of feedstock, carbon balance, and the (near) elimination of the whole petroleum distribution system.

I disagree with that. A smaller purification system is going to suffer heat losses to a much greater degree. It is inevitable. You see it all the time when trying to run a laboratory column to simulate a production column. Efficiencies aren’t nearly as good because of the higher relative heat losses.

Regarding the comment that 100 billion gallons of fuel are thrown away:

Misquoted or misspoken. He probably meant to say that the US is sitting on about 100 billion gallons worth of cellulosic biomass on a sustainable, annual basis. That’s the USDA/DOE “Billion Ton” study. There’s a fine line between “thrown out” and “not utilized”. Then there’s all the stuff that we’re paying to haul away to landfills (another 6-10 billion gallons worth). Tom knows the difference, but somehow the two thoughts got combined into a single statement.

We exchanged a number of e-mails regarding the claims around adding water to ethanol to improve the engine efficiency. I have seen some references to that, but I haven’t been able to find actual results. (See this article, for instance). My comment was that the results may have been spun like the University of North Dakota study cited above. But one thing that I told him I don’t believe is credible is that a person was running out of fuel and added 3 gallons of water to their tank to get home (see the previous story for that example). It is possible that a vehicle running on ethanol – and with a pretty full tank – could “tolerate” that much water.

But this much is true. It takes a lot of energy and capital to get that last 5% of water out of ethanol that is produced. Cars can run on ethanol that contains water (hydrous ethanol), albeit at a lower efficiency (which is why the water is removed). Brazil runs some of their cars on hydrous ethanol. But the claim that this improves the efficiency is pretty far-fetched, in my opinion. One of the articles I recently read stated that the water lowered the combustion temperature, thus increasing the efficiency. But if you look at the equation for efficiency of an engine, a lower combustion temperature will normally result in a lower efficiency. Regardless, I don’t put much faith in highly counter-intuitive results until they have been well-replicated (see ‘cold fusion’). And if they are – it would be a potentially revolutionary finding.

On the cellulosic issue, he wrote:

The MicroFueler is an automated fermentation, distillation, and dispensing platform. Our fermentation process regulates agitation, temperature, and other parameters to optimize output, but fermentation is fermentation. Distillation isn’t rocket science. If you can boil water then you can distill ethanol. We happen to be able to do this very efficiently and we produce a very high quality fuel. So the question is, can we really hydrolyze cellulosic materials to liberate the sugars and then convert them into ethanol? The answer is yes. The better question is “can we do this efficiently in order to get close to the maximum theoretical yields?”

You can’t just put grass clippings in a MicroFueler and walk away from it and expect ethanol fuel. There’s more to it than that. But, it’s not a big deal to put a grinder, pump, and a 300 gallon tank next to a MicroFueler or to add a bottle of enzymes now and again. It’s like having a pool, and then having the pumps, filters, to make it work, and the chlorine to keep it all clean. Or like a washing machine for that matter. Laundry detergent is mostly enzymes, and the clothes don’t wash themselves.

There’s another issue here which is that people toss around the term “cellulosic” far too often without really knowing what it means. Food waste (starch/carbohydrates) is very easy to work with, but it’s not cellulosic. People think that anything other than corn is cellulosic. Blame that on the media.

Around the economics, he essentially said that not everyone will save money, but some will save a lot of money. I haven’t seen the assumptions that went into those financial calculations, but I am highly skeptical that the average person would save any money.

In his conclusion, he again hit upon the local production aspect, which was the one part I did find appealing:

And here’s the $64,000 controversy… Say for example I feed my MicroFueler a steady diet of corn (grain) and amylase enzymes. I grow the corn on my farm, make the fuel on my farm, and feed my chickens the WDGS that are left-over from making ethanol. No transportation. Then I collect the chicken manure and spread it back in my corn field (which I also irrigate with the wastewater). By the way I’m also paying a premium for wind power to run my MicroFueler in this scenario. Is this sustainable? Does this defeat the argument that all corn ethanol is patently unsustainable (by definition)? I guess it all depends on the price delta between a bushel of corn and a gallon of gasoline. High gas prices and low corn prices you better believe I’m making fuel.

I don’t think anyone would argue that corn ethanol is unsustainable by definition. If a farmer is growing his own corn and taking care of the soil, and using that to produce his own ethanol, then he has a shot at sustainability. We lose the plot when we try to ramp that up to be a large scale solution.

To conclude, I recognize that my original article was pretty harsh. But that is because in my opinion there had been a distinct pattern of embellishment with this device, and if there is one thing I loathe it is people making far-fetched promises around renewable energy. I found the L.A. Times article to be irresponsible, either because the journalist did a poor job or the developers were overselling their device.

The end result of articles like this is that it creates the potential for money – private equity and taxpayer funds – to flow to an undeserving source. Ultimately this will have the effect that the funds will dry up, and promising technologies won’t be funded as a result. Imagine funds for cancer research being diverted to some of the fraudulent cancer cures, and you have the sort of example that gets me worked up. That is the reason I am quick to pounce on embellishment.

68 thoughts on “An E-Fuel MicroFueler Dealer Responds”

  1. Thank you Robert! Well done and balanced. We appreciate your effort!

    They are simply trying to sell a hopping frog as a method of air transport.

  2. The problem with "hydrous" ethanol is when you start mixing it with gasoline. If you get the mixture wrong, the water will settle out.

    I haven't really researched this at all, yet, but if I remember, correctly, you need to run it almost empty of the hydrous ethanol before you Fill Up with gasoline.

    Hydrous ethanol does work fine in the warmer lattitudes of Brazil, but it seems to me it would be "problematic" in the Colder lattitudes of the U.S. (at least, in winter.)

    I intend to run my Impala on hydrous in the warmer months; but I'm sure I will have to switch back to E85 (E70, really) in the winter.

    One VERY important thing about going to a highr ethanol blend. When making the "Initial" fillup, it's very important to drive a few miles. The ECU MUST connect the "Fueling Event" with the higher O2 levels in the exhaust.

    If, after the initial fillup with the higher blend, you start up the car, and pull over to the front of the quickshop, and turn off the ignition to go inside, you WILL suffer much lower gas mileage. This could be the Genesis of some of the horror stories you hear.

  3. "But one thing that I told him I don't believe is credible is that a person was running out of fuel and added 3 gallons of water to their tank to get home (see the previous story for that example)."


    I don't believe it either. If that were true, why would the ethanol industry spend so much time and energy getting that last 5% of water out of the alcohol they make? (Getting that last 5% of water out consumes 20% of the energy an ethanol distillery uses.)

    I think perhaps someone is confusing that with turbojet engines. The early Pratt&Whitney J57 turbojet could temporarily increase takeoff thrust by injecting water into the combustion chamber. The water cools the exhaust gases increasing their density, and thus also increases thrust.

    But that doesn't work with an ICE.

  4. RE the 'optimum' blend of ethanol: DoE NREL duplicated the North Dakota U study, only with more more vehicles. They found all "exhibited a loss in fuel economy commensurate with the energy density of the fuel". E20 showed a 7.7% decrease in mileage versus E0, just as expected. At there is a summary of the work and also has a link to the original NREL rpt. I've seen DoE present this comprehensive study, and they seriously stress this point as clear refutation of the ND study results. Much of the ethanol advocacy community clings to the urban legend of optimum ethanol blends reducing the mileage penalty, much in the same way they ignore a lot of other basic science.

  5. The e-fueler story just gets worse every time I read it, or read about it.
    Even worse, the L.A. Times has not printed a shame-faced retraction, as they should. The problem with a retraction is first you have to admit the whole premise of the story was built on solid cotton candy.

  6. Wendell.
    A while back a mechanic friend and I were talking about why cars seem to run better in cooler weather.

    During the conversation he mentioned that piston engined aircraft during WWII were sometimes water injected.

    "Water injection systems are predominantly useful in forced induction (turbocharged or supercharged), internal combustion engines. Only in extreme cases such as very high compression ratios, very low octane fuel or too much ignition advance can it benefit a normally aspirated engine. The system has been around for a long time since it was already used in some World War II aircraft engines."


  7. Dear Mr. Cole,

    I do not think you comprehend "the severity of the crisis"

    There are simply not enough solar cells,

    Toyota 9 World's largest auto-maker and another R&D sump-pit and scam outfit) recently announced that demand for their solar roof Prius model was 12%,

    They originally projected that they would only sell 1 to 3% of the solar roof models.

    Just one more example that solar cells can't keep up with demand.

    Solar cells are therefore "vapor-ware"-

    I am on the floor laughing so hard I can hardly type…………..


  8. I get the feeling that John randomly chooses someone to address his musings at. How did we suddenly get on the topic of solar cells? If demand for solar roof models of Prius exceeding projections means that solar cells are "vapor-ware", then I guess demand for Escape and Focus models of Fords exceeding projections (because of Cash for Clunkers) means that Escapes and Focii are "vapor-ware".

    That kind of logic could send me rolling on the floor laughing at the absurdity.

  9. "John randomly chooses someone to address his musings."


    I will address my musings towards you.

    Please do not put the deficit of solar cells in regard to the Prius on Mr, Coles' account, Let me simply ask YOU what we are supposed to do about this problem.


  10. Well Clee my 89 Ford product-life-extension Ranger has solar AC. However, the seats get a little wet when it rains.

  11. John writes: Let me simply ask YOU what we are supposed to do about this problem

    WE do nothing. I don't see a problem. Companies will do what they usually do when they underestimate demand. They will increase production and then sell the product that's in demand. That's the way the market works.

    That was not an invitation to use me to address your non-sequitor musings in the future. Please don't.

  12. It's a helluva problem…

    Not enough solar cells for a "hybrid" THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD ON ARRIVAL.


  13. Are you hearing voices in your head? I don't think even Kit P. has called Pious' DOA. He calls PHEV's DOA, but the 2010 Prius is not a PHEV.

    Still, I see no problem. The Prius will work just fine without solar cells.

  14. RR, it is to your great credit that you are willing to bend so far backwards to be scrupulously fair to your correspondent who, if not himself a charlatan, is in bed with a flock of them. (See, I can recognize your great reservoir of kindness and open-mindedness but I can't duplicate it.)

    My problem is that you are treating a scammer like you would a kid with a science fair project that seems to produce a much-longed-for result through incredible means. That's fine for 8th graders, but what happens out in the real world — and I realize, not to you — is that these people bilk hundreds and sometimes thousands of others. For a LOT of money. This is how people wind up seeing me, having invested their money with a scammer and crying and asking if there isn't some way to get their money back. And, no, usually there isn't.

    As many smart people have noted, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. You have listened to many gusts of handwaving but been offered no proof of anything that the guy was intending to prove. What he has proved to me, someone who has to help people try to pick up the pieces after their lives have been turned upside down by these parasites, is that he is a glib one, and that you are unusually fair-minded.

  15. "He calls PHEV's DOA, but the 2010 Prius is not a PHEV."

    Well,he sounds just like the folks that blew off hybrids 7 years ago Clee. They were too expensive. The payback time was forever and a day,etc. Some folks might buy a PHEV just to thumb their nose at Chavez. I'd sure like to.

  16. I've seen DoE present this comprehensive study, and they seriously stress this point as clear refutation of the ND study results.

    I had not seen that. Definitely the topic of a future post. I feel vindicated, because I kept saying that I doubted the results of the North Dakota study and that they would need to be replicated by an independent body before I accepted them.

    Our friend Rufus accepted and constantly defended them, and said I was belittling these fine students every time I pointed out that the ethanol lobby had paid for the results. What say you now, Rufus? I am sure you have seen this.


  17. Robert,I don't know if you saw my question about Microbiogen on the last thread. They say their biorefinery can produce more food than the corn alone would,and more ethanol as well. If their yeast can do what they claim,the food for fuel debate is over,and so is any hope for gasification.

  18. I doubt that he really makes this ethanol strictly with corn he grows himself with his own organic fertilizers. You can say anything you want on the internet. If that were profitable everyone would be doing it.

    I also know that these machines, by their nature will require maintenance and repair. If he put a dollar value on his time he would find this fuel costs a fortune. As a hobby, fine, as a long term feasible idea, not likely. People buy appliances to save time and labor. This appliance is a step backwards.

    And haven't people been making moonshine in stills for centuries? Isn't this just a sophisticated still?

    My 89 Jeep fuel pump went out not long ago. I strongly suspect that the higher ethanol blends are placing the final straw on the backs of older cars and costing people thousands in repair bills. Seems to me this could be checked statistically. There should be a spike in fuel system repairs corresponding with higher ethanol blends.

    Just don't let the U of North Dakota to do the study.

  19. Water injection was used on some WWII bombers during takeoff to cool the cylinders (like adding a temporary radiator). It was not used continuously because it imparted a gas mileage penalty.

  20. Actually, water injection can improve fuel economy in the old WW2 bombers as well, but wasn't because it wasn't worth lifting the weight of the water needed for injection.

    So it was only used to improve engine life/boost power.


  21. Go to Oxymaven's link, click on the pdf, and go to E-4.

    5 of the 16 cars were added at the request of CRC (petroleum money) as they were deemed to be "unusually sensitive" to ethanol.

    Three were 1999 models, a 2002, and a 2004. They did not adjust "long term trim" under Wide Open Throttle."

    The test did not give the results for individual cars, but having these 5 cars in there, and only giving averages (especially in a test that accentuated WOT performance had to skew the results some.

    Look, you're going to, on average, give up a little mileage on ethanol blends (at least, with today's engines.) I give up about 4% when I run E20. If I'm driving on the highway I do a little better than this, if my wife is driving around town she does worse.

    The North Dakota kids used newer vehicles, and used the EPA cycle. This test used the LA cycle, and used some vehicles that were doomed to fail. Since something like 50% of miles are put on by cars less than 6 years old, I think the N. Dakota test might be a little more representative of reality for "Most" people.

    I guess you could make a reasonable argument for "poorer" folks driving older cars needing the money the most, however.

    I any case, I think one should study the two tests a bit before jumping up and down too much for either side.

  22. Russ, the study has been done. Fuel pumps last about 150,000 miles regardless of the fuel used.

    The number one cause of an older fuel pump going out is letting the gas tank stay below average full during the hot summer months. The Heat is a killer.

    Of course, you Do Not get more feed by removing the starch. That's just silly.

    You do, however, get a, pound for pound, more Potent feed. With the less efficient stach calories removed, and the added protein from the yeast, the DDGS, on a pound for pound basis is about 30% – 40% better feed than straight corn.

    The thing is you only get about 17.5 lbs of ddgs back from 56 lbs of corn. A bit under 1/3 of the weight of the corn is CO2 that's released in the brewing process.

    Anyway, you get a higher quality feed, but not More Calories.

  23. “Well, he sounds just like the folks that blew off hybrids 7 years ago Clee. They were too expensive.”

    Actually, I did drive of the first a Prius brought to a renewable energy conference in Portland, Oregon. I would have bought one too if the car matched my driving habits. If you can walk to work, an 89’ Ranger without AC works fine for a lot lower cost.

    The reason I refer to hybrid as the ‘Pious’ because owners can not explain why it is a better environmental choice than a Corolla. Toyota does not even try; they are marketing image and why spoil it with a factual debate?

    Solar AC is just a bit absurd. If you can not tolerate a few minutes in a hot car, you have zero environmental credibility.

  24. Hey rufus, didn't know we had a livestock feed professional in the house. Lots of professionals hanging out here on Mr. Rapier's blog, and just the specialists needed to comment on any and all contrived controversies that arise.

    Oh, one more thing rufus, when you feed DDGS to livestock, how much soybean meal does it replace? You know, that plant that only produces a fraction of the per-acre yields of corn. Also, what effect does the lower total volume have on portage costs? A professional such as yourself should easily answer these questions. I'm just a ignorant blog reader.

  25. Natural gas hit a 7 year low today after another inventory build was reported. Storage capacity is close to 100% utilized. I suppose the next step is to burn off the excess gas.

  26. Anonymous, I just parrot back, correctly at times, what I've read at various sites I trust (then, I DO try to verify.)

    Livestock Producers tend to use all the DDGS they can (they are limited by the oil content, among other things.) They do this because they get more "Gain" for the "Buck." NOTE: Several Ethanol refineries are starting to remove the "Corn Oil" from their DDGS. This leaves a Distillers Grains "Meal" that should be capable of being fed in somewhat larger quantities. At present, I think a lot of the "feeders" are feeding about 30% DDGS.

    I'm not for sure what percentage of the soybean meal can be eliminated by feeding DDGS. I've read where the savings are substantial as a result of this.

    I usually use the non-controversial amount of 40% as being the percentage of "cattle-feeding ability" returned in DDGS. The RFA, and the NCGA, by adding in a substantial figure for Soybean Meal come up with a larger number.

    Your point is well taken as regards "acreage" for soybeans vs. Corn. With average soybean yields in the 40 bu/acre range, and Corn in the 160 bu/acre range, obviously if you can replace some soy meal with corn DDGS you're going to use less acres than if you were just replacing corn in the animal's diet.

    It would seem likely that a feed that's 40% more efficient would be cheaper to transport, but, since there might be "flowability" issues I might not want to get "too far" out on that limb.

  27. RE: I can understand why Exxon spends $13 bil on lobbying when this administration and Congress have them in their gunsights, and since they are affected by almost every piece of legislation from taxes to health care to climate etc etc etc. What I find more intriguing is why tiny little algal start-up Sapphire Energy has spent over $500k in the last 3 quarters on DC lobbyists – see
    Sapphire 1Q2009 Lobbying &
    Sapphire 2Q2009 Lobbying and Biofuel Industry Lobbying

  28. "Livestock Producers tend to use all the DDGS they can (they are limited by the oil content, among other things.)"

    Rufus ~

    All they can? Here's what the Purdue University Extension Service says about DDGS:

    "The typical levels of DDGS (dry matter basis) that can be added to the diet have been approximately 20% for beef and dairy, 10% for swine, and 5% for poultry."

    20% is far from all, and the percentage is even less for hogs and poultry.

    It's from Purdue Extension document ID-330, The Value of Distillers’ Grains as a Livestock Feed.

  29. Ben Cole said:

    "My initial research suggests we are just getting started…many R&D centers looking at large improvements in lithium batteries."


    Here's a recent item:

    "HAYWARD, Calif. — Envia Systems, a technology leader in high performance, low cost energy storage solutions using lithium-ion batteries today announced in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, it is the recipient of an R&D 100 award for its lithium-ion battery for plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs).

    "The lithium-ion battery developed by Envia Systems and Argonne provides the highest energy and cycle life of all lithium-ion systems available in the market today for electric vehicles.

    This technology will facilitate vehicle manufacturers in meeting the stringent U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium requirements for powering 40 mile range PHEVs.

    Check out EV World, AutoBlogGreen, GreenCarCongress from time to time.

    Also the MIT website"

    or, "Science Daily" at:

    Sorry, been busy. Washing machine broke down.


  30. Wendell, I suppose I worded that, badly. I was trying to say that they are limited, mostly by the oil content of the DDGS, in the amount of DDGS that they can feed. Many feeders feed the most they effectively can, because they get more gain per dollar with DDGS than they do with Corn.

    As I said, though, many of the refiners are going the fractionation route (as quickly as they can get the money to install the equipment.) By "fractiionating" the corn the corn oil is removed, yielding a "meal" instead of ddgs. This meal can be fed in larger quantities (especially in hogs, and chickens) than the DDGS.

  31. Go to Oxymaven's link, click on the pdf, and go to E-4.

    E-4? There is no Appendix E. Where are you finding E-4? Please be specific, as I don't feel like wading through the 135 page document. A PDF search shows no results for E-4.

    But I love your implication that NREL – an organization dedicated to renewable energy – was potentially influenced by petroleum money and thus blew the test.

    You never cease to amaze me. You embraced a test paid for by the ethanol lobby, but reject one done by NREL while attempting to put a petroleum spin on it. Smear, smear, smear – unless a result is pro-ethanol.


  32. RR:
    You should comment on Thursday's Wall St. Journal front page article "US Biofuel Boom Running on Empty". In particular, straighten out the authors on economic nonviability of cellulosic.

  33. Now, that's not right. I didn't say I rejected the test. I just stated what they stated. The CRC asked them to include 5 "ethanol challenged – oops, ethanol sensitive" cars, and they did. They were older cars that were known to have problems with "long term trim" when using ethanol blends.

    I can't say how it affected the test because all they gave was an "average" of the 11 normal cars, and the 5 ethanol-challenged cars.

    E-4 is one of the early paragraphs of the article. If you'd, actually, read the article you would have read it.

    I don't know how to "copy" out of a PDF. I'm not the most computer literate person on the list. That's why I said, "go to the link, click on the pdf."

    I don't understand the vitriol.

  34. "In particular, straighten out the authors on economic nonviability of cellulosic."

    Don't be so sure of that Rob. What if there was a yeast that could convert the entire stalk…corn,cob,and stover? Or the entire sugar cane stalk? What if the end result was more food than you started with,and ethanol to boot? That's what these guys are claiming is possible. And they claim to have the yeast to do it.

  35. We have 9.4% Unemployment, and Oil is still selling for $73.00/barrel this morning.

    Some of us think we might have a big problem coming up real soon. If some of you guys are worried about your EXXON Stock, don't be. All EXXON needs to make a lot of money is a decent economy.

    If people can't afford to drive you WON'T HAVE a Decent Economy.

  36. You should comment on Thursday's Wall St. Journal front page article "US Biofuel Boom Running on Empty".

    The next essay will hit this, which I should have time to do this weekend. It is sitting in my head, waiting to be typed out.

    Cheers, RR

  37. Now, that's not right. I didn't say I rejected the test. I just stated what they stated.

    Yet because all of the cars tested showed the expected drop in fuel efficiency, that really isn’t relevant other than an attempt to put a negative spin on the tests.

    E-4 is one of the early paragraphs of the article. If you'd, actually, read the article you would have read it.

    I don’t have time to wade through 135 pages right now. That’s why I asked you for a page number, which you still didn’t provide. I went right to the fuel efficiency section and read the results. I will take a closer read when I publish an essay on this some time in the next week.

    I don't understand the vitriol.

    Let me put it in perspective for you. You have pimped that North Dakota study on numerous occasions. You bristled when anyone mentioned that it was funded by the ethanol lobby. You accused me of denigrating the fine students who did the study when I questioned the results and suggested that there were a number of what appeared to be classical outliers. None of that stopped you from pimping this test across the Internet. Now, a pro-ethanol government agency concludes otherwise, and you want to slow down and not jump to conclusions. You are quick to attempt to put a link between the petroleum industry and this test (while consistently refusing to acknowledge that the ethanol lobby actually funded the previous test). This is an example of your comically over-the-top bias. I just don’t know people with that sort of bias unless they are getting paid for it. I can’t distinguish between you and Bob Dinneen.


  38. What page do you suppose the 3rd, or 4th paragraph would be on?

    I've read a lot that Bob Dineen has written, and said, and I haven't caught him in a lie, yet.

    And, yes, I believe both tests can be accurate. I do believe the N. Dakota test is, probably, more relevant to most situations, but, I did admit that those 1999 ethanol sensitive cars are more likely to be driven by poor people, so, perhaps, that should be considered.

    If you'll look back, I said that everyone should, probably, refrain from "Jumping up, and down" over EITHER test.

    Also, of importance, I think, is that there weren't ANY Flexfuel cars in the test group.

    A Large percentage (and getting larger) of U.S. Automaker Production is now Flexfuel, and it's supposed to be 50% by 2012.

    As I've stated, I give up, depending on who is driving, and where, on average about 4% on E20 in my Flexfuel Impala. One stretch of road that I drive (a hilly stretch where it downshifts sometimes on gasoline (we had some ethanol-free gasoline in Memphis a few months back when there was no financial incentive to ship it down, and sell it) but doesn't on E20.

    It's not really much of a big thing, anyway. It'll be Many Years (if ever) before you see blends approaching 20% in your pump gasoline. If it ever does happen the odds are big that you'll be driving a "True" flexfuel car by that time (displacement on demand, variable ratio turbocharger, direct injection, etc.) Your mileage will be, if anything, better than on straight gasoline.

  39. What page do you suppose the 3rd, or 4th paragraph would be on?

    It was on Page 18 of the PDF (the page numbered xvi in the report). Were you implying that it was right at the beginning? One had to wade through a lot to get to it. So next time it will save a lot of time if you say "On Page 18…"

    I've read a lot that Bob Dineen has written, and said, and I haven't caught him in a lie, yet.

    How about lots of Red Herrings and ad hominems? Of course he has told lots of lies. He has made impossible claims with respect to what ethanol can actually do, and he has promoted shoddy research. Now, this morning I read that he has a government grant to "educate" the public.

    If you'll look back, I said that everyone should, probably, refrain from "Jumping up, and down" over EITHER test.

    Show me any place that you urged caution on the first test – prior to the second test coming out.


  40. I didn't. I, probably, thought the first test was a bigger thing than it was.

    I think the first test was accurate, and, thus, important. However, on reflection, I realize it doesn't do much good for someone driving one of those older cars that are ethanol inefficient.

    What, exactly, did Dineen say that you think was so egregious?

  41. rufus wrote: The CRC asked them to include 5 "ethanol challenged – oops, ethanol sensitive" cars, and they did. They were older cars that were known to have problems with "long term trim" when using ethanol blends.
    I can't say how it affected the test because all they gave was an "average" of the 11 normal cars, and the 5 ethanol-challenged cars.

    Eh? On pages C-2 through C-17, they show the Fuel Economy of each car progressively dropping as they went from E0 to E10 to E15 to E20. There's one page for each car, so it's not all 16 cars averaged together. All the cars, whether old 1999 cars or new 2007 cars, did worse as the ethanol blend increases.

  42. Clee.

    There is probably a "glut" of solar cells right mow. After years of competition for raw materials with the IT/PC/Electronics industry. (which drove up prices and made solar less attractive)

    The "problem" for Toyota is a "supply chain" problem, or a manufacturing problem and not one of raw materials.

    The idea that cars are running around with solar cells on their roof-tops may seem absurd, but it shows the penetration of the technology. Along with Robert, I am "long on solar"


  43. Ah, I see it, now. I saw the "emissions" and didn't see the little bars on the right.

    Did you see the actual numbers, anywhere? My eyes were having a hard time with those little bars.

    It looked to me like the "American" cars might have done a little better than the rice burners and Euros. Anyway, the test is what it is. It goes against My experience, but I drive a newer "flexfuel."

    I guess it's a good thing that Detroit is going to be building more flexfuels, eh?

  44. I think you might want to be a little careful with your solar investments. At the end of the day solar cells are just commodities, and the prices are plunging.

  45. John writes: The "problem" for Toyota is a "supply chain" problem, or a manufacturing problem and not one of raw materials.

    Glad we finally agree on that. It's not a problem that we or the government or anyone other than Toyota and its suppliers should meddle in.

  46. “it shows the penetration of the technology”

    It does? Hey, I have some neat solar PV path lighting. It has really penetrated decorative yard lighting. Wahoo!

    Not very useful in winter when I actually get home from work after dark. I gave up on them and now use 12 v LED path lighting that use 10 w of power.

    Solar PV is a Mickey Mouse. It is fitting that we discuss solar PV along with other frauds. I have no problems with hobbies of cooking biodiesel in the kitchen with children playing or making your own electricity. For those who want to be a candidate for a Darwin Award, be my guest.

    My assumption is that fleet operators and utilities make choices after professional due diligence that is beyond the abilities of the average home owner. To be honest, I did not do a ROI on our new HVAC system. My wife and I derive a sense of satisfaction out of having efficient stuff. However, I would find a lot of dissatisfaction with a $40k solar PV system that did not make electricity very well. We have too many trees.

  47. Clee,

    I am going to have to agree with Kit P on this one.

    Why spend $2000.00 EXTRA BUCKS TO HAVE A FAN THAT

    Just roll down the windows and let the hot air escape.

    Them turn on the AC.


  48. Kit,

    I do not agree with your last post.

    I agree with the idea that it is cheaper to roll down your windows to let out hot air than it is to buy an expensive "add-on" from Toyota powered by solar cells.


  49. It never occured to the sensible Japanese, nor would it to an Engineer, that so many Americans would spend an extra $20.00/mo to have a solar gadget on their car.

    Me, I would have guessed "high."

    Ya just gotta love "America," don't ya?

    I've seen solar panels advertised for $2.50 W, recently. When they drop another 50% we might all have to do a rethink.

  50. Rufus,

    "It never occured to the sensible Japanese, nor would it to an Engineer, that so many Americans would spend an extra $20.00/mo to have a solar gadget on their car."
    We have very real energy problems…..

    And this is the Japanese "Green solution" to them ?


  51. Why spend $2000.00 EXTRA BUCKS TO HAVE A FAN THAT

    Yes, it does seem to me mostly an expensive toy. I once had a sun roof that I would leave open, but someone broke it once while kindly trying to close it for me when it started raining. Currently, I leave my windows slightly open to let hot air escape during the dry season. But I have lived in areas where to do so is to invite someone to break into your car, a rather expensive option. So I can understand if someone would rather not leave their windows rolled open.

  52. Bah, I'm not writing so well today. An expensive luxury, not toy. Like heated seats. Some people are willing to pay a lot for luxury.

  53. Quoth Wendell:

    "The water cools the exhaust gases increasing their density"

    Actually, the water cools the intake air with two effects.
    1.  It increases the mass-flow through the compressor; not only do you have the water, you cool the air and have more of it.
    2.  Cooler air enters the combustor, which allows more fuel to be burned and a greater temperature rise without exceeding the turbine inlet temp limits.

    If you were burning "wet" ethanol in an engine with an appropriate fuel system, the water would increase the octane rating and reduce the combustion temperature.  This would allow you to run lean without having to worry about NOx or knock, though CO and NMOG emissions would increase if the flame got too cool.

    As for the MicroFueler, if it uses a still heated by electricity it is going to be HORRIBLY expensive to run.  Electricity is one of the costliest sources of heat you can buy.  If you had to use electricity it would make sense to drive the still with a heat pump, because you could run the condenser colder than ambient and get whatever operating pressure was best.

  54. Water injection, lower-proof hydrated ethanol (160-180 proof), "mileage" vs "thermal efficiency" of higher-

    blends in non-flexfuel cars and cooled air/humid air turbines seem to be related.

    Water injection and hydrated ethanol: Octane boosting and fuel displacing. Octane boosting should be non-

    controversial. Fuel displacement is straight-forward even if anti-intuitive. Mileage falls yet at an lower

    rate than the btu content would suggest. Higher thermal efficiency results in virtual btus from the water, or

    however anybody else wants to express the phenomenom. Practical limits are flame quenching (the intuitive "no

    duh.") Google "aqueous fuel mix" or something like that. *Your mileage may vary* LOL.

    Higher-blends in non-flexfuel cars: if I believed in conspiracies, I'd say most cars are actually flexfuel

    cars with that capability intentionally disabled. They're Celeron cars. Smart + Simple application of variable

    control should capture much of the benefits of higher thermal efficiency via the knock and oxygen sensors.

    Total "mileage" vs "thermal efficiency" applies as above. Btu x % = mileage. *Your mileage may vary*

    Cooled intake air and humid air turbines: the most costly part of the air-fuel system is the air. 2/3 to 3/4

    of the fuel is used to collect "free" (TANSTAAFL) ambient low-density oxidizer from the environment. Cooling

    intake air is one way to improve this. Split-cycles using concentrated oxiderizers are another. Humid air also

    benefits specialized hydrogen engines by increasing mass impingement on pistons and vanes. Google whatever

    keywords catch your fancy. *Your mileage may vary*

    Some bonus thoughts becuase I know you all love me now:

    DDGS value: when complimentary proteins are mixed they can have a higher added-value than either one alone.

    Above an optimal ratio, excesses of one results in it's relative value dropping off a cliff as useless amino

    acids displace the rate-limiting amino acids. If you had a deficiency of vitamin B-1 and B-2 you'd take a

    supplement of both, not a double dose of vitamin B-2 or even "vitamin B complex." If you did, you'd have cured

    the B-2 deficiency but still have tingling toes and, oh yeah, still be bat-shit crazy from the dying neurons

    in your cerebral cortex while pissing away (that's a technical term us life extensionist use) the useless

    vitamins. Same thing with "protein" which should better be known as "amino acid complex." When livestock piss

    away their nutrients it's called "ecological disaster" or "crime against humanity" by the alarmist elite.

    Farmers just say it "smells like money." Ruminants have a unique wrinkle: their rumen. Complimentary proteins

    are measured here by whether the rumen microbes degrade or allow protein to by-pass into the cow. Corn and

    yeast protein win here, much more than their Wikipedia "complete protein rating" would indicate. Soybean is

    more of a microbe fertilizer and alot more expensive than urea or chicken litter. Then add up all the savings

    in avoided production and portage costs and improved feed conversion ratios. *Your mileage may vary*


    Automated, solid-state technology that replaces a whole well/mine-to-outlet infrastructure? On MY roof? What's

    not to like?
    Intermittency? If you want to see the Real Intermittency Problem, look at the grid usage curve. How many

    billions of dollars of gensets are idle 23 hrs 45 minutes per day? Those peaker aint making electricity at

    night either. Solar PV rides the curve nicely. We replace all those engines and fueling support infrastructure

    with a new type of "Thin" engine (silicon metal vs iron metal) and no fueling support infrastructure. Replace

    the iron ore mines with sand mines, if only for the capacity at the top of the curve. Google "flattening the

    curve" and "smart grid."

    OK, brunch time. Gotta go heckle the Royal Funeral.

  55. Ben,

    Go to;

    Probably the best hyvrid car site. Good statistical analysis of previous months hybrid sales and activity.

    1. Go to home page

    2. Click on "Research"

    3. Then click on "Culture and Market" which will take you to the current hybrid statistics.

    4. Color pie charts, graphs, year-to-date sales, erc. Also, the areas where hybrids are most popular and so on.

    5. Plus, archives going back several years.


  56. Ben.

    After you click on The "culture and market " button, hit the current "dashboard" button.

    (about a 2 week lag before previous month's statistics are published.)


  57. Water injection in jet engines

    Thanks Engineer Poet, you explained that much better than I did.

    Hydrous ethanol

    Just ran across this article about hydrous article v. anhydrous. Transition to Hydrous Ethanol

    Don't know what "News Blaze" is, but I do know that ethanol stills use about 20% of their energy getting the last 5% of water out of the ethyl alcohol they make. The ability to use hydrous would certainly help the EROEI of corn ethanol get above the dismal level it is now at.

  58. Wet and Dry alcohols

    An azeotrope (pronounced /ay-ZEE-ə-trope/) is a mixture of two or more liquids (chemicals) in such a ratio that its composition cannot be changed by simple distillation.[1] This occurs because, when an azeotrope is boiled, the resulting vapor has the same ratio of constituents as the original mixture.

    A well known example of a positive azeotrope is 95.63% ethanol and 4.37% water (by weight).[3] Ethanol boils at 78.4°C, water boils at 100°C, but the azeotrope boils at 78.2°C, which is lower than either of its constituents.[4] Indeed 78.2°C is the minimum temperature at which any ethanol/water solution can boil. In general, a positive azeotrope boils at a lower temperature than any other ratio of its constituents.

  59. When you see articles about "Many cars in Brazil run on 100% ethanol" they are referring to "Hydrous" ethanol. In fact, I believe all filling stations in Brazil sell Hydrous Ethanol as one of the options.

    As I said, earlier, the only tricky part is switching from the "hydrous" to gasoline.

Comments are closed.