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Facts to fuel holiday conversations

Before the holiday gatherings with family and friends, take a moment to look a new website giving ethanol facts and supporting resources, particularly if you have one of those fancy phones.
By Susanne Retka Schill | December 17, 2012

National Corn Growers Association has a new resource at www.ethanolfacts.com that I think might be quite useful.

First, they say they designed it for mobile devices. Each page is clean and simple – it gives a few of the most salient talking points, and includes a link for more information.

Second, those links take you to original data and other solid sources. So if the topic of ethanol raising the price of food comes up, you can follow the links and get the USDA report everyone cites. There you will find the information that says the cost of transportation adds more to the cost of food than the commodities used in it. The high cost of oil has much more impact on food prices than ethanol’s use of corn.

There are similar links regarding flex-fuel vehicles, jobs and the economy, lower toxic emission, energy security and E15: tested and safe.  Essentially, these six topics are the main talking points for the industry in both defending and promoting ethanol. The bottom of each page also gives links to the websites of key organizations involved in the fight: National Corn Growers Association, Fuels America, FFV Awareness Campaign, Clean Fuels Development coalition, Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, American Coalition for Ethanol Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association.

Before the holiday gatherings with family and friends, take a moment to look the website over, particularly if you have one of those fancy phones. I can just imagine a discussion about ethanol over holiday cheer. Whip out your phone and type in EthanolFacts.com, an easy URL to remember. For the tentatively supportive folks, you will be able to give them a powerful resource to use for ammunition. For the more hostile, you can support your argument by showing them the original documents from  USDA, DOE, EPA or the materials created by the various organizations working in the ethanol space.

I remember well one such discussion at a family gathering a few years ago with a mechanic who was rather hostile towards ethanol and biodiesel. (I was writing about both at that time.) I write about these issues all the time, but for the longest time I had a hard time coming up with concrete examples and hard facts to counter aggressively negative comments. I am not a debater, nor am I quick on my feet in a discussion.  I could have used a resource like this one. Of course, I didn’t have a smartphone then, and I still don’t.

What did the trick with this guy was talking about race cars burning ethanol blends, and racers liking the advantages provided by ethanol’s high octane and cooler combustion characteristics. Plus, what racer with a $60,000-plus engine is going to mess with something that will ruin it?

The longer I write about ethanol, the more I can remember convincing facts and details. But I know that it is not easy to remember the numbers. Having a new resource like this is most helpful. Now, I wonder if Santa has a smartphone on his list for me?

6 Responses

  1. Alex Kovnat

    2012-12-17

    1

    One can also point out that while methanol has been used for decades as a racing fuel, ethanol offers the same advantages of high antiknock rating and cooler combusion as methanol but 1) is less corrosive and 2) offers somewhat higher energy content.

  2. stan

    2012-12-18

    2

    The problem I have with ethanol, is that corn growers and Renewable Fuel lobbyist, continue to force Americans to buy their product(with a mandate) And do not allow the free market to work the way it should. This is a UN American way to do business. If you have a good product you don't need a mandate to sell it. This unfair, UN American way of marketing is wrong and really needs to end. With new oil and gas drilling, the US has plenty of energy.We don't need to take more land from food production.With all the droughts and population growth we definitely should not grow fuel.We should end the ethanol and RFS mandates. And for the carbon and global warming problem we need to fast track new,safe nuclear energy http://www.nei.org/ fuel-grade ethanol from hydrocarbons like natural gas, an abundant U.S. resource, and maybe Air Fuel Synthesis. http://www.airfuelsynthesis.com/

  3. Vic

    2012-12-18

    3

    Stan, you are free to buy non-ethanol gasoline. Do you? Didn't think so.

  4. Dave

    2012-12-18

    4

    Stan, It's not a free market when the oil company control's the fueling station.

  5. Alex Kovnat

    2012-12-20

    5

    @Stan: I am 100% for nuclear power. Regarding oil and natural gas, I'm happy that fracking has increased the supply of NG, a more environmentally friendly fuel than coal. But if buildup of carbon dioxide in our planet's atmosphere is an issue, we must use biofuels. For example, every year during October and November we see tons of fallen leaves from trees. One wonders how much energy we could get from all those leaves, if collected and processed into fuels and chemicals. Or simply burned along with coal in the electric power plants we presently have. Regarding the food versus fuel debate, we who participate on this site should know by now about distiller's grain and how modern ethanol plants also separate out corn oil as well.

  6. Donald Barry

    2012-12-28

    6

    Susanne: Both the current issue on the web and previous issues do not include the "Distilled Section" that is in the print edition. When on the road I will go to the web to bring up articles but can not access the Distilled Section. One example in the December issue was the ability to use ethanol in fuel cells. We are researching fuel cells for a nonethanol application and wanted to quote the article to the fuel cell vendor. Had to copy the article and send it versus being able to show the article on my laptop. Just a suggestion. Don Barry

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