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Is ethanol an answer?

CC.Rob_2 Member Posts: 46
I agree. I sit in a highly inefficient small commercial building (granted, it was designed 30 yr ago to be "temporary").

However, things can change. Right outside my window, we are doing an addition to an existing building that is, for once, not "value engineered" for the bottom line. It has been planned with a fair bit of attention to long-term costs and performance. Some features: 1) significant attention paid to southern exposure and maximizing passive solar heating; 2) solar DHW going on the roof of the existing building will serve it and the addition; 3) part of the addition is built into the side of a hill, and will have a turf roof. (This is a set of cold-storage rooms -- building them into the hill will significantly reduce seasonal fluctuations in cooling needs); 4) excellent attention being paid to the envelope. Good slab and edge insulation, etc.

And would you believe this is a federal building?


  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
    I thought this article on-point...


    Worth a read IMO.
  • jp_2
    jp_2 Member Posts: 1,935
    i agree

    it will produce distillery jobs, thats good.

    if they figure out a good way to break cellulose up into sugar then the distilleries are in place.

    i hope for the good old days with a brewery in every town!

    remember, we use about 400,000,000 gallons of gasoline per day, a billion gallons of ethanol would last long.
  • Dave_23
    Dave_23 Member Posts: 190

    At some point, we'll have to figure out how to stop "burning things" for energy. Ethanol is just a short term fix, besides burning ethanol, particularly the corn-based variety, requires us to burn food. Steam and hot water heating will probably be here for a long time, however the energy source needs to change ie hydrogen, fuel cell, solar-fuel hybrids, etc. (dare I say nuclear!?).
  • Joe Brix
    Joe Brix Member Posts: 626
    Short term fix yes

    But I say we need the short term until the long term gets figured out. There must still be some form of government subsidized agi money still being payed out to farmers. Eliminate that and make farms grow switchgrass. Just as there's never going to be enough corn to create enough fuel, there's never going to be enough corn to feed the world.
  • William Faust
    William Faust Member Posts: 168
    very little corn is actually eaten by people

    here in the U.S. Most of what our farmers grow is turned into corn syrup or starch that is put into virtually all processed foods - which is, in part, why so many of us are fat and diabetic or pre-diabetic - or fed to beef cows to "finish" them. Virtually 100% of Iowa's corn crop will be devoted to ethanol production within a couple of years. So maybe we'll actually get a bit healthier. On the other hand, we will using the last six inches of Midwestern top soil to drive our cars. That is the really dumb thing about it. We should be using that valuable soil resource for food. Besides, corn-derived ethanol is an energy loser unless the Amish are growing it. They're extraordinarily efficient with their use of real horsepower.
  • ALH_4
    ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790

    And most of our crops are grown with petroleum-based fertilizers and treated with petroleum-based pesticides. Tractors and combines run on diesel fuel. So, in a way, isn't ethanol at least part petroleum anyway?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,956

    and the real ringer in the deck is...

    it takes more diesel to make the corn than you get back in the form of ethanol! So the net result is... you feel real good and green, and use more petroleum in the end than you did before.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steve Ebels_3
    Steve Ebels_3 Member Posts: 1,291
    Don't worry about the Iowa topsoil

    In a few years the Yellowstone caldera will erupt again and deposit a few thousand cubic kilometers of ash downwind. :)
    All over Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska and the rest of the corn belt. Course' no one will be around to farm it, but the top soil will be back.

    How do you think that topsoil got to be 3 feet thick in the first place??

    PS: Just a tad tongue in cheek ;)
  • William Faust
    William Faust Member Posts: 168
    I know that it's tongue-in-cheek, but...

    that Iowa topsoil was originally about 6' thick and it got there by process of five (the only state that got five) glaciers chewing up rock into teeny bits. Add some organic material and voila!
  • Tony_23
    Tony_23 Member Posts: 1,033

    But isn't feeling good what it's all about ?

    I read it takes 1.16 gallons of diesel to make 1 gal of ethanol from corn.
  • William Faust
    William Faust Member Posts: 168
    You are not...

    the decider.
  • big willy
    big willy Member Posts: 92
    the big pic

    every time I think about things like this I wonder when we will all get on the same page. Of coarse the most aparent problem is cars we see them every day and, I'm guessing about 1 in 4 SUVs actually use the horse power and four wheel drive that helps them burn so much fuel. I love seeing hummers in suberbia drivin by a soccer mom it makes me proud. My point is more about the less obvious things. For me thats commercial buildings. I do a lot of commercial building HVAC maintanence. I always hear the managers whine about their utility bills. I have one building that runs as high as $18,000 a month. This building houses about 180 peaple. If transfer that to a residential home that would mean each of those peaple would have a $100 dollar a month utility bill. I know that the buildings dont have to consume that much energy. In my area Residental construction has gotten so effeciant its amazing but commercial construction has had little changes other than double pane windows. Anyway thats my beef. Im gonna go turn up the heat a bit and make some steamed corn all this talk about sweet corn has me hungry.
  • mtfallsmikey
    mtfallsmikey Member Posts: 765
    Here is the problem with commercial construction, Willy

    As in the case of the 2 buildings I run, they are "value engineered" to death, built for investment purposes. Everything designed borderline to fit the bottom line. Keeps all of us gainfully employed and off the streets.
  • Perry_3
    Perry_3 Member Posts: 498
    That's like saying that we don't need trees bcause we use lumber

    Good greif...

    You are correct, in that much of the corn crop is not eaten directly.

    If you stop making all of those corn items... and stop feeding corn to meet and egg production... We cut our food supply.

    Not saying I don't need to loose weight... But that's the wrong way as a substaintail portion of the US (and the world) might literally starve to death.

    Who cares about clearcutting of the trees ... afterall, we buy lumber at the lumber yard and not trees.

  • Perry_3
    Perry_3 Member Posts: 498
    Ethonal use... Limited viability...

    Actually, ethonal use has a place.... Brazil is huge on it. But if you notice the climate is a lot warmer and they can grow crops that produce natural sugars a lot better than corn.

    Sugar cane, sugar beets, and other "sugar" products grow very well in warm climates. In those areas making ethonal actually makes sense.

    Corn is a fairly low sugar crop, and is grown in the northern climes as it does better there. I am not saying that it cannot about break even - but it is not a huge benifit and can be a loss.

    Ethonal from celleous... Well, they've been working on that for at least 40 years.... and it's always just a few years around the corner it you listen to the proponants(kinda like fusion power). Mankind may someday figure out how to cheaply make ethonal from celleous. But, I'm not betting on it until it happens.

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