Answering Reader Questions 2009: Part 1

Before I took a recent trip to Canada, I opened up the floor for questions. Getting them answered has taken longer than I intended. Fortunately, other readers answered a lot of them in the comments of that thread. So I have sifted through the list, trying to find questions that were still open, or those I wanted to make an additional comment on. Thanks to those who submitted questions, as well as to those who answered them. A special thanks to Kit P., who wrote some extensive answers to some of the questions around electricity and saved me a good deal of work.

This is going to take at least three installments. But I have put this off long enough, so here are my answers to the first five questions. This installment covers plasma gasification, natural gas projections, free energy, promising alternative energy technologies, and GTL.

I have a total of about 25 to answer, and I will get to them in the coming week.

The Questions

Russ wrote: I read about plasma gasification of garbage. Naturally the people promoting it say how great it is. Your comments please. Answer

Bob S. asked: What will natural gas production in the US be 5, 10 and 15 years from now? Should I convert my 310 delivery trucks (I operate in an east coast city) from diesel to natural gas? Answer

bc asked: The inline ad for this article claims “Never pay for electricity again”, something called Magniwork. I recommend NOT clicking the click, as it does dodgy things with your browser. Does Magniwork really work? Is there such a thing as “free energy”? How do I stop these scammers’ ads appearing on my screen? Answer

C asked: Which alternative energy technologies do think will have the greatest impact in the US? Answer

Benny wrote: A friend of a friend of mine is working on a process to convert natural gas to gasoline, through some sort of heat and pressure. My friend did consulting on pressure and flow inside of a tube. That is all I know. Is there any hope for such a scheme? Any hope of commercial viability (obviously, we have abundant NG in North America)? Answer

The Answers


Gasification technologies in general have a lot of idiosyncrasies that can make them difficult to get right. I have seen this first hand in a gasifier that failed to perform. The issue in that particular case was the refractory which protects the metal from the very high temperatures of the gasifier. If the refractory has a problem, you can get hot spots on the shell of the gasifier and weaken the metal.

That’s just an example of one of the things you have to get right. Plasma gasification is a special case within gasification technologies. It uses electricity and very high temperatures (thousands of degrees) to gasify the feed. Because of the electricity demands, the external energy inputs into plasma gasification can be high relative to other gasification technologies. Further, if you are using the synthesis gas produced to further produce a liquid fuel, there are a couple of other considerations. Plasma gasification occurs at low pressures. Many of those downstream reactions (like Fischer Tropsch) are carried out at high pressure, requiring a further energy intensive compression step. This means that plasma gasification has been looked at very little for the production of liquid fuels. Coskata is looking at it for their system, but this was one of the criticisms I had of them. The technology at scale and in that application is an unknown. That puts increased risk on Coskata’s technology.

If the purpose is merely to destroy the garbage and produce a bit of syngas in the process, then that might be a more workable option. I think it just depends on how the costs compare to digestion or to producing power from incinerating the waste. But if the intent is to turn that garbage into liquid fuels, plasma gasification may not be the best choice.

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Bob, the projections from the EIA (admittedly taken with a grain of salt) are that natural gas production will be relatively flat because prices are expected to be relatively flat. Because of all of the shale gas that starts to become economical in the $6-$8/MMBTU range, I think it is going to be hard for natural gas prices to break through those levels for a good while. Therefore, if I was planning for fleet purposes, I might take the upper end as a worst case and see what that would do to my business. Then, I think whether to convert depends entirely on how many miles per year your fleet travels and the availability of fueling stations in your area.

I believe that if the savings would pay back the conversion costs in 3 years at a presumed natural gas cost over that time of – say $5 – then I would do it. For that matter, you can hedge your natural gas price. If I look out 5 years, the price I can lock natural gas in for is still in the $6-$7 range in 2014, and in 10 years is only in the $7-$8 range. You just have to make the call on whether you are going to be financially OK if prices do get up into that range, knowing you have a substantial upside if they stay in the $3-$5 range.

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No, I don’t believe any of these free energy systems work. The ones I am familiar with all violate laws of thermodynamics (e.g., Steorn). So I certainly don’t endorse any of them, and the appearance of their ads here is because someone paid Google to place their ads on topical websites (presumably with certain energy-related keywords). I don’t know how to stop them from appearing, except I do have some ability to block them when I see them. I have done this in the past for highly non-topical ads.

My other option is of course to take the ads down altogether. The income from them is pretty trivial. However, I have always liked the idea that my writing is helping to pay my grocery bill. Best thing I would suggest is just not to click on ads that seem too good to be true.

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I am going to tip-toe around this one. As some others pointed out, there are options that are making a contribution right now, albeit I think you probably mean in the long run. To be clear, I think we will have corn ethanol for a long time. But I also think it will necessarily be subsidized for the next 30 years as it has been for the past 30. I don’t believe it will be able to make a big impact insofar as displacing large amounts of fossil fuels simply because a lot of fossil fuels tend to be consumed in the process of producing the ethanol.

However, I do think there are technologies that have a lot of promise – especially in specific niches – but that haven’t gotten a lot of attention. But in my new role, I will be working on developing some of these technologies and trying to bring them to commercialization. Some of them are very specialized and relatively unknown, and therefore I don’t want to write about them until our relationships are more secure.

But without totally dodging the question, I will provide some hints. There is a guy who posts here sometimes called Al Fin (see his website here). I was reading through a blog posting on cellulosic ethanol a few days ago, and I ran across a comment that Al made. His first paragraph here hits specifically upon some of the things that I think show a lot of promise – and in fact that first paragraph hits very close to the mark on several things I am looking at. I will at some point start writing more about some of them.

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Benny, that’s the basis for gas-to-liquids (GTL). Natural gas can be turned into synthesis gas, and then you can send that gas through a Fischer-Tropsch reactor to make longer chain hydrocarbons. From this process, you get wax which has to be cleaned up, and as part of the clean-up you can make gasoline blending components. The problem is that it is a capital intensive process due to all of the downstream clean-up equipment required, and thus is expensive. This is why – despite lots of natural gas reserves – we don’t have GTL plants popping up all over the place.

Now if your friend is working on a process to directly make gasoline from natural gas, I am unaware of such a process. Natural gas isn’t too keen on reacting with other natural gas molecules to form longer chain hydrocarbons without first converting it into an intermediary like syngas. One could perhaps envision a catalyst that could build up the chains directly from natural gas into something longer.

There is a reaction called methane coupling (which I have some experience with) in which the methane (C1, because it has one carbon) in natural gas is converted into C2. In order to get up into the gasoline range, you need to grow that chain to something like the C5 to C8 range. In other words, you have to grow the single carbon atom in methane into a string of 5 to 8 carbon atoms joined together. The methane coupling reaction, for instance, has low yields and low selectivity, demonstrating the challenge of growing these chains. If you can only get 10% of the methane to form C2, and the reaction is capable of going to C3, then your yields beyond C2 are going to be trivial. Still, it isn’t pseudoscience.

OK, that’s all for now. The next installment will start with the story about the UT Arlington researchers making oil from lignite.

24 thoughts on “Answering Reader Questions 2009: Part 1”

  1. Some comments on gasifiers in the paper industry and refractory. Even before the biofuel craze the industry was looking at gasifiers to replace recovery boilers for processing black liquor (the remnant organics and inorganics from chemical pulping of wood). One high temperature gasifier was installed in NC. The refractory had to be extra tough because at the high temperatures the inorganics (about 50% by weight of the total solids, NaCO3 and Na2SO4) would become molten smelt. Anyway alumina was chosen. One issue that the engineers missed was that as the alumina corroded its volume increased. The steel pressure vessel surrounding the refractory then had the pressure of the expanding refractory on it and deformed. Because of the deformation they had to replace the whole shell, this time they took into account expansion.

    Also about 7 years ago I was able to see some metals work by oak ridge labs. They were working on metals that could resist both high temperatures and molten smelt in gasifiers. Mainly obscenely high chromium contents 50%+, the negative being the increased brittleness.

  2. “Should I convert my 310 delivery trucks (I operate in an east coast city) from diesel to natural gas?”

    No, but you may want to check what the locally for incentives to grow of fleet on new NG trucks designed to run on NG. The cost of transportation and taxes can vary a lot.

    I do not expect the cost of NG to remain as low as RR does. The use of NG electricity generating industry has resulted in NG prices to be very volatile. Texas, NY, NE, and California went heavy into NG generation that last time NR were low.

  3. I do not expect the cost of NG to remain as low as RR does.

    The point was that you can lock in your long-term price. It is possible to take a lot of risk out of this scenario and then do the economics.


  4. With plasma the gasifier/melter I have a small amount of knowledge about – Westinghouse – the main insulation is the gas layer shrouding the plasma. Nothing used in industry will stand the plasma temperatures.

    I was forgetting about the plasma system being low pressure though – atmospheric for Westinghouse.

    The 'normal' gasifiers (GE & Shell) operate at higher pressures making downstream uses easier.

    The use (making syngas) we looked at for the GE (previously Texaco)or Lurgi gasifiers all turned into rather expensive propositions due to the need to handle all the byproducts.

  5. "Because of all of the shale gas that starts to become economical in the $6-$8/MMBTU range, I think it is going to be hard for natural gas prices to break through those levels for a good while."

    There is also a straight-faced argument that gas prices could collapse to very low levels for some years.

    Qatar (and some other countries) have invested heavily in Liquified Natural Gas plants and ships. Some analysts think that the LNG is in effect a by-product of producing condensate (an oil-like liquid which drops out of the gas when it is brought to surface conditions). Thus, some LNG producers may sell LNG at a loss, in order to be able to keep extracting the more valuable condensate from the gas.

    On the other hand, Europeans may try to buy all the LNG they can, to reduce their dangerous dependence on Russia for gas — and we might even see the US build LNG export plants to feed the European market if the US economy continues to go south, driving US gas prices up.

    It is tough to predict the future!

    One side thought on RR's sensible suggestion about hedging through the futures market: understand who your counter-parties are. Make sure you are comfortable they will be able to deliver the contracted gas volumes.

  6. The US already export LNG from Alaska.

    “you can lock in your long-term price”

    I agree and it would seem that this is understood in Texas but maybe not elsewhere. There was a presentation about 10 years ago that I saw at a conference that showed that ceiling for NG was $4/MMBTU because of LNG. The world would need no more new nukes or coal plants. Every turbine manufacture had a backlog of orders. What happened next was very ugly if you had not locked in the low prices.

  7. Be not too bullish on natural gas prices. There seems to be continual improvements in shale gas extraction techniques, thus lowering MCF prices–as one might expect, given that it is a new technology. There are rumblings about $2 mcf long-term.
    Exxon is getting involved, and the pioneers are improving their operations. Sometimes you just have to accept good news (and be grateful there are talented engineers and people willing to venture capital for this sort of enterprise).
    RR: Thanks for your answer of natural gas to gasoline. If I can garner more info I will let you know.

  8. Does anyone know what Choren's "Sundiesel" retails for? I can't seem to find a price. I'm curious to know if Shell gets a premium for it. Seems like you could in Europe.

    I've worked with FT fuels a few times, they're quite a bit of fun to work with, it would be interesting to see a product that was specifically developed for it. We don't do that today because you cannot be sure the owner will always use that fuel. New technology is becoming available that may allow you to adapt the engine performance real time to the fuel type.

  9. "Be not too bullish on natural gas prices. There seems to be continual improvements in shale gas extraction techniques, thus lowering MCF prices …"

    Benny — it is not that simple.

    The characteristic of shale gas wells is a very rapid initial decline rate (due to transition from fracture flow to matrix flow). A well can lose 50% or more of its rate in the first year. So if drillers stop drilling, it will quickly bring production back into line with demand.

    And if we look at the Baker Hughes statistics on drilling rigs in the US (which mostly drill for gas), the number of active rigs as of July 30 was 948 — a drop of 1003 from the same time last year. That's right, more than half the rigs drilling last year are now laid up, the crews looking for other jobs in Obama's excellent economy.

    Remember that markets work by over-reacting, on the high side and the low side. When gas supply drops to the level of demand, many of the business that did the drilling will be bankrupt, the rigs will be rusting, and the crews will be working instead as community organizers. It may take a larger price rise than some are expecting to get supply expanding again.

    And this does not even touch other factors, such as lease terms which may force some operators to keep drilling even though the price is low. Or actions by international players — both demand side & supply side.

    Hedging sounds like a pretty smart move for anyone whose business depends on the future price of gas.

  10. Kinu:
    You should regularly read Ghawar Guzzler, just for balance. Given improvements, ongoing and pending, in natural gas production, I would say we will enjoy epic supplies of natural gas for decades.
    I concur with you, in that these improvements are purely driven by the private sector, and in response to the price signal, and that the Obama team seems clueless in this regard (in fact, if Obama has an energy policy, I don't know what it is. Of course, I felt the same thing about Bush. I guess this nation will just have to forge ahead despite government.)

    Right now, we are at the depths of the worst recession since the Great Depression. But, in general, due to high global savings rates, there is no shortage of capital. And the US still has a rough free market economy, and is a safe place to invest (in anything, too safe: Both Bush and Obama seem to think bondholders must always be bailed out).
    This recession is ending, the longest since the 1930s. Look for health investing in natural gas, and a good buildout of the infrastructure.

    You know, in the 1990s there was little of this pervasice pessimism we have now. I think the Bush Presidency, followed by a deep recession, then followed by the cipher Obama, has made many peopel too gloomy.

    But, we have seen much worse times. I can remember 18 percent mortgages, and gas lines, and riots in the streets, and Vietnam, and a much-worse anti-business environment that we have now. Nixon tried wage-and-price controls! Nixon!
    I was lucky not to live through WWII or the Great Depression, which make my times look like a cakewalk.

    We will shrug off this recession, and this Presidency, and we will go forward. Too many venture capitalists out there, too many sources of capital, too much human capital (engineers, scientists), and now, wih the Internet, instant transmission of knowledge.

    This is no time to be a Gloomy Gus. Sheesh, look around you. GPS in your car, new cars getting 60 mpg. PHEVs coming to market. Gluts on oil and gas. Farm yields rising relentlessly for generations. Worker productivity rising all the time.

    A Bush, an Obama, even a Jimmy Carter can't stop it.

  11. The history of ethanol is pretty darned interesting. Henry Ford was a big proponent. So were Alexander Graham Bell,Thomas Edison,and Charles Kettering. With cellulosic ethanol right around the corner,we're back to where we were 90 years ago,LOL.

    In September, 1922, Midgley and Boyd wrote that "vegetation offers a source of tremendous quantities of liquid fuel." Cellulose from vegetation would be the primary resource because not enough agricultural grains and other foods were available for conversion into fuel. "Some means must be provided to bridge the threatened gap between petroleum and the commercial production of large quantities of liquid fuels from other sources.

  12. “I felt the same thing about Bush.”

    Is it correct to assume Benny that you did not read The National Energy Policy, May 2001? To put it simple, Bush had a policy of all of the above.

    The priority of Obama is heath care and global warming. Anyone remember Clinton? Same agenda but Clinton was failing to get these things done during a period of peace and prosperity. Obama has no focus.

    The problem that the dems have is everything was Bush's fault. Blaming Bush is not a plan.

  13. Kit P-
    I have read parts of said document. But having a document, and what was passed and become real law and policy, are two different things.
    Bush's big "accomplishment" was a huge increase in our ethanol program largely a sop to farmer (Republican) states. It is a huge subsidy, one of many paid by urban areas to rural areas.
    Let me tell you about free enterprise in a Red State: Subsidize the risk, and privatize the gain.
    Bush accomplished nothing on our dependence on thug sttes for oil, no meaningful alterations in our inability to rapidly build nuke plants, and he spent $1 trillion in Iraq, which I guess is about oil, except they installed an Islamic government that gives contracts to Red China.
    Bush never even mentioned a national gasoline tax boost.
    Obama seems to be making the very same mistakes, except maybe worse, as we are getting entangled in Afghanie and Pakistan as well, and still have no meaningful energy policy.
    Obama too is afraid to even mention a national gas tax.
    Hey, just calling it as I see it.

  14. Benny "Boom, No Doom" Cole wrote:
    "new cars getting 60 mpg.

    Name me one production car that I can buy today in the US that gets 60 mpg EPA. Imperial gallons and hyper-milers don't count.

  15. @Anon

    You are right about policy requiring action by congress to become law. That would be the 2005 energy bill. Ethanol is one example of an accomplishment.

    As far as nuke plants, Bush did provide a program test the new process COL and early site permit process. Alteration of the process has occurred before Bush became president. Now, 5 reactor designs are in the process of review and 30+ reactors are in planning. Once permits are issued then the nukes can be built rapidly avoiding the costly delays in the past.

    Lots of other accomplishments on national energy policy too.

    “Bush never even mentioned a national gasoline tax boost.”

    Raising taxes on energy and a national RPS for electricity was not part of the Bush agenda. I happen to agree with those positions long before Bush was elected. I do not see how you can fault Bush for not accomplishing things that he did not try to accomplish.

    It would appear that ANON is confused between national energy policy and foreign policy. AGW is really a foreign policy issue. Bush did promote building nukes in India and China. If Westinghouse has not started construction yet they are close. Bush was very clear about Kyoto treaty too.

  16. In September, 1922, Midgley and Boyd wrote that "vegetation offers a source of tremendous quantities of liquid fuel."

    How "tremendous" is "tremendous"?

    This is an honest question. Can someone please point me towards a reliable assessment of the photosynthetic Net Primary Productivity of the planet, and of the share of that NPP which humans have already appropriated?

    I have seen numbers for NPP ranging from 45 – 100 TeraWatt, and for the share already appropriated by humanity for food, fuel & fiber in the range of 60%.

    For comparison, at current conditions (relatively high energy amplification from fossil fuels, large part of human race grossly underserved), we are using about 15 TW of primary power supplies – excluding the NPP used for food, fuel & fiber.

    I am trying to get a quantitative sense of whether biofuels really could make a big contribution to future human power demand (comparable to what fossil fuels currently provide), or whether they are just another niche fuel.

  17. Benny wrote: "This is no time to be a Gloomy Gus."

    On a technical level, I agree completely.

    We already have the technology & resources to give the entire human race a western standard of living for one or two thousand years — plenty of time to invent the power sources we will need thereafter.

    The problem is on the political level.

    Our intellectual superiors workship the false god of alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming, and are completely ready to sacrifice the human race on that altar. Our best & brightest will not build nuclear power plants, even despite their carbon-free nature. The very idea of using nuclear power to mine transportation fuels from coal or oil shale gives them the vapors.

    And so we, the ordinary people of the world, face a bleak future.

    This has happened before. China was the world leader in the 1400s. And then their version of our Political Class made a conscious decision to turn their backs on technology. For the next 500 years, the Chinese people were condemned by their rulers to live nasty short brutal lives as primitive peasants.

  18. running truck fleets on NG–

    CLNE[NASDAQ], clean energy fuels prices their CNG/LNG on the competitive price of gasoline. they do the NG hedging etc to remain competitive. there is rapidly growing base of fueling sites via their web site and NGVAMERICA.

    also, those interested in subject should follow activity on CURRENT LEGISLATION– SEN1408, HR 1835.


  19. Kinuach,no one thing will take oil's place. Even if cellulosic ethanol could replace 84m bpd of oil,it won't have too. The transportation fleet will go more and more electrical. We're nowhere near peak electricity,and probably never will be. I saw an estimate that algae could provide all our fuel needs using just 1% of existing farmland. In a perfect world,maybe. More likely,we'll get biofuels from a dozen different sources and methods. But,they'll just provide a fraction of the power we get from the grid imo.

  20. Kinauchdrach, the DOE has referenced A Billion Tons of "Available" biomass in the U.S. (I've got to wake up, and go run some errands, but I'll try to find the study later, if you want.)

    This woud be "Forestry Waste, Agricultural Waste, Municipal Waste, etc. Figuring 80 gallons/ton of biomass, and 30% more efficient cars that would just about get us where we want to go.

    I don't think that included raising any energy crops, or using any corn starch, or sorghum starch. It may not have included Municipal Solid Waste (about 250 Million Tons, year. I'm sure it didn't include anaerobic digestion from farm animal manure (potential to supply electricity for 20 Million American homes,) or Raising Energy Crops such as Switchgrass, Poplar, etc, or any Algae.

    I like to break it down into "chewable" bites. I live in a fairly "average" U.S. County. About 100,000 people. I like to look at what it would take to keep "us" moving." We have about 1,000 sq miles, or 640,000 acres with which to work.

    If I want to break it down even further, I've got 6.4 acres to work with (12.8 for me and my wife,) and about 4/5 of one acre of that 6.4 is, currently, being farmed. The other 5.6 acres is currently lying fallow, used for light grazing, or in forest (mostly scrub, not much hardwood.)

    This is pretty typical of average land use in the U.S. Most of what I read tells me I can operate my car off of a half an acre.

    That gives me one acre to feed myself, and export quite a bit of food, a half an acre for fuel, and 4.9 acres for the birds, and rabbits ( and, graze a cow.)

    Not bad, really.

    Of course, it would be "really" easy if my fellow Countians, and I planted, say, an area of about 2.5 mi X 2.5mi around the local landfill in switchgrass, and poplar. We would have very low transportation costs, and save a lot of money on "landfilling."


  21. Kinu–
    We have seen worse times, and worse governments, and survived. Keep the faith.
    The explosion of knowledge and technology we have seen is just the beginning. Who knows what mainland China will produce in the next 100 years.
    When I was growing up, pretty much all technical advances came out of the U.S., and maybe Europe. I can remember my father going to the library or making extensive arrangements to get a technical paper written in German, in the 1950s. Even in the 1950s, some technical papers from the 1930s were considered germane.
    Now, the whole world has engineers and scientists, and more are being minted annually. Information is transferred instantly via the web. Huge pools of capital are developed constantly.
    One tiny example: Japanese engineers are looking at an air lithium battery that would be a vast advance over existing batteries. If it works, goodbye ICEs.
    Another teeny example: UT Arlington guys think they can make oil from lignite.
    Third example: The geniuses who figured out how to make shale gas–and that technology is rapidly improving. Cheap NG may be the new norm for decades and decades.
    We are on the cusp of another boom, and this one will last for decades. The world have never seen such an agglomeration of capital, knowledge and instant transfer of information.
    At the bottom of a recession is no time to decide one's mood about the future.

    Clee: The 2010 Toyota Prius says it gets 50 mpg. I thought Honda or Toyota was coming out with a 60 mpg cars in 2010, but maybe I was wrong. 50 mpg is not bad. The critic for the LA Tines drove a Ford Fusion hybrid, and logged 56 mpg.
    Okay, so we have cars getting more than 50 mpg on the market. That is after a brief window of higher gasoline prices (2004-2008).
    Imagine what would happen if gasoline actually rose and stayed up (I wonder if oil can stay up. We have a glut to the moon in oil now, and natural gas. ASPO was predicting global ruin in 2010, due to shortages. Hew-haw).

  22. Benny has touched on something that always astonishes me. Why in the world do we get caught in that trap of "Can THIS solve ALL of our "problems," or fulfill ALL of our "Needs?"

    My county isn't exactly "rich" in wind. But, we have Good Solar Resources. We could, easily (not too far in the future,) have a solar panel on every roof. Sure, they're expensive, now; but prices will, almost certainly, continue to come down.

    Also, we have the Mississippi River. That sucker is pretty deep, and flows at a pretty good clip. It could power a vast chunk of the Midwest.

    The Coastal areas have Good Wind (especially offshore,) Tide, Waves, and Ocean Currents. Also, good solar in most places.

    The Desert is "Rich" in Solar, and the Midwest has a Lot of Wind.

    Half of all the Scientists that have EVER LIVED will go to work tomorrow morning.

    We are not just "surrounded" by Energy, we're literally "Buffetted" by it all day long, every day.

    And all this without even considering those big, old Honkin Nuclear Plants. Feedstocks may not last Forever, but, as K, and K have mentioned here, it's probably a thousand years, or more.

    The new Seeds will open up half of the earths dry land to farming that was, due to acidity, aluminum toxicity, salinity, aridity, etc. off limits before.

    We're going to be "up against it" for a few years, but progress will be served, eventually.

  23. Robert, thank you for your reply on natural gas.

    “Should I convert my 310 delivery trucks (I operate in an east coast city) from diesel to natural gas?”

    As you mentioned, hedging at a fixed price is what we will likely do. It is expensive at $7 for ten years but the certainty of price makes it worthwhile.

    It is something we have been considering for many years now. The recent government grants have taken some of the initial investment financial risk away.

    Bob S.

  24. Quoth rufus:

    "This woud be "Forestry Waste, Agricultural Waste, Municipal Waste, etc. Figuring 80 gallons/ton of biomass, and 30% more efficient cars that would just about get us where we want to go."

    (NB:  1 billion tons * 80 gal/ton is 80 billion gallons.)

    You forgot several things:

    1.  The lesser energy content of ethanol vis-a-vis gasoline.  It takes about 1.5 gallons of ethanol to replace 1 gallon of gasoline.  Until recently the USA was burning about 140 billion gallons of gasoline per year, so replacement would require approximately 210 billion gallons of ethanol.
    2.  Diesel fuel demand runs at about 30% of the level of gasoline, and it has considerably higher energy content.  Further, you won't get any improvement from increased compression ratios.  Figure an 80% premium on the current consumption of diesel to replace with ethanol under BAU; in round numbers, another 70 billion GPY of EtOH.

    Your personal situation looks good under an all-biofuel scenario with no major disruptions.  However, once you look at the implications of the radically reduced level of consumption elsewhere in the economy, "no major disruptions" appears to be mighty naïve.  We would be much better off planning for electrification than dependence on biofuels.

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