leafetarian wrote:While I agree with your points about Alcohol / Ethanol being better than fossil fuels, the reason why many of us bought LEAF is that we simply don't like anything burning and LEAF shows that you don't really need to burn anything!
On the subject of EVs I agree completely - and more than 50% my miles are EV. However... I simply cannot go all electric with any vehicle available today. My ICE miles are in a pickup - not a show truck but one with dents and places to tie-down the sheets of plywood, 2x12s and hay bales often in the back. Sorry - for the time being I do have to burn something. As do many of the people in the interior of the country. I wish it wasn't the case. Since carbon (after population) is our number one problem, ethanol's significant carbon negativity is a real benefit here.
leafetarian wrote:There are several problems with biofuels:
1) ICE (internal combustion engine) is inherently inefficient. As you can see citations from the book "Without Hot Air", ICE has very low efficiency of 25% or so because huge amount of energy gets wasted in heating the car and environment and then braking etc. (without aggressive regen like LEAF) whereas EVs are 80-more than 90% efficient.
Overall efficiency: Change your view to "well to wheels" - how efficient is distributed generation? How many cancer deaths are caused by our >40% reliance on burning coal?
Engine/point of use efficiency: I agree with gasoline, less so with diesel (though emissions are not great), but it's better with an alcohol engine - into the 40% range. Alcohol can replace nearly all gasoline today and some diesel (and can replace all diesel with a fuel delivery system developed in the 1980s and used on city buses). We can go carbon neutral for all of our transportation immediately if we choose - well before we'll have any significant EV market penetration.
leafetarian wrote:"Without Hot Air" shows that it is better to electrify everything including transportation and even heating homes and heating water using heat exchangers / heat pumps running on electricity and use electricity from solar, wind, water only.
It "can" be better - and certainly can be better than the US norm of heating the air inside buildings, but there are significantly better ways that have been in use throughout North America for more than 40 years - buildings that don't require heating or air conditioning for example. When do you plan to build YOUR Earthship?
Look up two posts.
And also look to RMI's "Reinventing Fire" program...
leafetarian wrote:It is possible to supply the world with solar, wind and water. So, why grow biofuels (which can compete with food) and burn them?
Simply because 100% electric is a long term project - and we need a MUCH FASTER set of solutions for our carbon trouble. We simply cannot wait for everyone in the US to discover EVs.
Alcohol can be made from food - absolutely. But the corn used for ethanol in the US is designed from the start to be an industrial feedstock - it's never going to be 'food' unless we're talking about animal feed. In that case, distiller's grain - a byproduct of ethanol production - is a much better feed than raw corn. There are some nice synergies here as well. More to the point, however, is that the only reason we use corn in this country is because we grow "too much" of it and it's dirt cheap. There are so many better crops for ethanol - and many of them don't need fertilizer, irrigation, pesticides, or food-quality land.
leafetarian wrote:Moreover, you can see that Professor Jacobsen gives detailed reasons about why we should not choose biofuels and I found those arguments very logical and based on solid science.
I've keyword searched Jacobsen's papers (linked two posts above) for "bio", "fuel", "alcohol" and "ethanol" and found no mentions of these. There was one line in the Scientific American article but it came across as opinion - I didn't see any data on which it might be based. Would you share the solid science that underpins his (or your) assertion please?
3) I highly doubt any "clean burning" or carbon capture etc. Nothing that burns is likely to be clean. There are generally harmful chemical by-products in burning anything (including natural wood) which can cause various diseases including cancer. Look at this BBC article quoting research at MIT : Road pollution is more than twice as deadly as traffic accidents, according to a study of UK air quality ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17704116
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But again - you're talking about gasoline and diesel here - and I agree! Gasoline is not a single product - it's a chemical soup of left-overs from refineries - and is not the same anywhere. Ethanol is ethanol - carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. A complete burn produces only CO2 and water. Gasoline will never do that. Ethanol emissions are very, very different - even when produced in engines evolved for gasoline over 100 years.
leafetarian wrote:By contrast, solar or wind + EV cause no emissions at all.
Once the pieces/parts are manufactured, anyway...
A 100% solution would be great - but there are none on the horizon today. Ten 10% solutions, however, will get us there - and can get us there quickly with today's tech. Either way, it's a good thing!