Reader Question: Ethanol and Water Wastage

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Sarah asks: Environmentalists want us to conserve water. But they force us to use ethanol gas from corn. How much water is used to make a gallon of ethanol gas? Farmers need to water the corn, transport it to the plant to magically turn it into fuel. Seems like it wastes a lot of water in the process or does converting oil to gas require the same or more water?

My reply: Amen, Sarah. There is also food wastage. For humans and livestock. Food – corn (and other crops) diverted from livestock feed to feed ethanol stills. Which raises the cost of human food (beef, etc.).

Ethanol also adds water . . . to our gas. Alcohol attracts water, which causes problems in fuel systems, such as accelerating rust inside metal fuel lines and tanks (if steel). It is a particularly big problem with boat engines but also generally.

And these problems are all the result of the force-feeding of ethanol. If there were no “renewable fuels” mandate, there would be virtually no natural market for ethanol. Which of course is why those who profit unnaturally from ethanol aggressively push for and defend the mandate.

As always, follow the money!

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  1. 8, I hate that autocorrect on phones too. Remember when I told you a few years back, I was grilling and my wife texted me to tell me she wanted a smoked sausage link, and the autocorrect changed it to ” I want a stiffly”. That’s about the weirdest thing that autocorrect has done that I know of.

    • Ed I remember it well and it’s still hilarious. I just hope she got what she wanted……only autocorrect could come up with that.

  2. I’m a homebrewer and a rough rule of thumb in the beer industry is it takes 4-5 gallons of water to make one gallon of beer after factoring in losses in the mash, boil, cooling and cleanup. Of course, to take that beer and make ethanol you need to boil off all the water. I would hope the majority of the boil off in the distillation process could be recaptured and reused but no process is 100% efficient so there must be more loss there. All of that is not even considering all the fuel inputs required along the way to convert corn into alcohol. No wonder most studies (not funded by ADM) find ethanol is a net negative in terms of energy output for energy input. What an asinine system and blatant example of public choice theory in action.


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