Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Why Ethanol In Gasoline Doesn’t Reduce CO2 Emissions

Many governments have mandated 10% ethanol blended into gasoline to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at the tailpipe, and some are contemplating increasing the blend to 15% to reduce emissions even more. Science doesn’t support this claim.

The same amount of carbon dioxide is emitted at the tailpipe for the same distance driven in the same vehicle regardless if the gasoline contains ethanol or not.

We should remind ourselves why we started putting ethanol into gasoline in the first place. Let’s go back to the 1970’s era of muscle cars, smoking inside airplanes, and using DDT to get rid of nuisance insects.

Refiners used to add tetraethyl lead to gasoline as an octane booster to stop engine knock, and car manufacturers liked it because the lead deposits on the valve seats allowed for higher engine compression ratios.

When leaded gasoline was banned due to elevated cancer risks, it was discovered that most substitutes for tetraethyl lead were even more carcinogenic, except ethanol.

Three percent ethanol in regular gasoline stopped engine knocks and manufacturers dropped their engine compression ratios (bye-bye muscle cars).

A second step in adding ethanol to gasoline was in 2007 when the US Energy Independence and Security Act mandated an increase to 10% ethanol in gasoline to reduce foreign oil dependency.

Ten percent ethanol-blended gasoline was not introduced to reduce CO2 emissions; it was a measure to both replace tetraethyl lead and increase the American domestic automotive fuel supply.

The concept that ethanol reduces CO2 emissions is from a carbon-dioxide offset theory that is accepted by the 2015 Paris Agreement, even though it is widely known that tailpipe CO2 emissions are unchanged.

The offset theory is that physical CO2 emissions from the burning of ethanol are not counted as increased human emissions because they are offset by the atmospheric CO2 consumption during photosynthesis by the plants grown by humans as feedstock for ethanol.

That implies that the ethanol source plant -—in North America that is corn—- has increased the amount of photosynthesis that would have otherwise occurred.

The physical CO2 released by the ethanol in the blended gasoline is simply not counted in the total emissions because it is offset by increased photosynthesis.

If this theory were correct, then carbon dioxide emissions in 10% ethanol-blended gasoline would drop by 10%.

By applying this offset theory, governments want refiners to increase the ethanol content by as much as 15% in regular gasoline (the limit your current automobile can likely handle).

The premise that ethanol offsets CO2 emissions is false. Either the corn would have been grown anyway for human or cattle consumption, or some other plant (crop or forest) would have grown.

There is no idle farmland on a planet with nearly eight billion mouths to feed. Diverting farmland from food to ethanol does not increase photosynthesis; it increases the demand and prices for farm yields as now they can be sold as either food or fuel.

Let’s take ethanol out of the political arena and put it in a lab. Ethanol releases only about two-thirds of the energy on combustion than gasoline does, so the more ethanol that is blended into gasoline, the more volume of the blend is required to drive the same distance.

Reports available from the US Energy Information Administration show that the same amount of CO2 is physically released from 10% ethanol-blended gasoline as regular gasoline for the same distance driven.

But now there is another CO2 stream to track: in the process of converting corn to ethanol, more CO2 is produced.

The assumption to date has been that this food-grade CO2 has been conserved by using it in carbonated beverages, commercial greenhouses, or other industrial applications.

I don’t think anyone really knows if that is true or an aspiration, but at some point, the market for CO2 will become (or already is) saturated and the corn-to-ethanol production facilities may vent their CO2.

In that case, the atmospheric CO2 emissions (tailpipe plus ethanol manufacturing facility) of corn-derived 10% ethanol-blended gasoline increases by 3% over regular gasoline for the same distance driven in the same vehicle.

If the ethanol content of gasoline is increased to 15% in this scenario, the tailpipe CO2 combined with ethanol manufacturing vented CO2 increases by about 5% over normal unblended gasoline.

That’s not all the downside to producing ethanol:

Corn makes up 20% of all the calories consumed by humans. One result of the USA 2007 mandate for 10% ethanol in gasoline was that by 2012, 40% of all corn grown in the USA was converted to ethanol. This is more corn than is consumed by humans on the entire continent of Africa. It caused world corn prices to increase by 30%, a significant economic blow for families in developing countries who spend up to half their household income on food.

Consider the freshwater used to grow that 40% of the US corn crop. Irrigation in the U.S. uses 38% of all the freshwater withdrawn from lakes, rivers, and aquifers; and corn makes up 25% of the irrigated acreage. It is not a stretch to make a rough estimate that 4% of U.S. freshwater usage is for corn-derived ethanol.

Even your mechanic has a negative opinion; increased ethanol can cause engine stalling, accelerated breakdown of aluminum and rubber components, and clogging of fuel lines. (If your gasoline-fueled lawn mower does not start next spring, and the carburetor is full of a green-tinged gel, that’s the result of 10% ethanol-blended gasoline left stagnant in the fuel system.)

The real paradox is that this all helps to meet Paris Agreement goals simply because of the bureaucratic assumption that more photosynthesis has taken place than otherwise would have. That’s not true.

Ethanol in gasoline does not physically achieve the claimed carbon dioxide emissions reduction; it does not achieve any carbon dioxide emissions reduction at all. It’s a cheap accounting trick.


Climate emergency: Only six in 10 chance of success at Glasgow summit, admits Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has admitted he has no more than a six in 10 chance of getting the breakthrough agreement needed at the Glasgow Cop26 climate emergency summit to avoid catastrophic rises in global temperatures.

The prime minister gave the gloomy assessment as he arrived in New York for a last-ditch effort to get the process back on track with just six weeks to go to the UK-hosted gathering, when he hopes to agree action to keep warming within 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

He warned bluntly that some major economies “need to do much more” if Glasgow is to succeed in moving forward the ambitious programme of emission reduction agreed in Paris in 2015.

At a meeting co-hosted by United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres on the fringe of the UN general assembly, Mr Johnson will be joined either virtually or in-person by political leaders from China and Brazil – viewed as two of the biggest obstacles to effective action – as well as some of the nations most vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

He will repeat his “coal, cars, cash” mantra as he urges fellow leaders to phase out carbon-emitting coal power generation, make the switch to electric vehicles and make good on a 2009 pledge to provide $100bn a year to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt to a warmer planet.

But asked to assess his chances of success, he told reporters travelling on his official Voyager plane to the US: “Getting it all this week is going to be a stretch. But I think getting it all done by Cop? Six out of 10.

“It’s going to be tough, but people need to understand that this is crucial for the world.”

Just 42 days ahead of the November summit, many major countries are yet to fulfil commitments to improve on nationally determined contributions (NDCs) towards global emission reductions agreed in Paris.

China’s promise to bring its emissions to a peak before 2030 and become carbon-neutral by 2060 is regarded by many analysts as insufficient at a time when the world’s biggest carbon emitter is planning to build 43 new coal-fired power plants and 18 new blast furnaces.

And Brazil’s president Jair Bolsanaro stands accused of accelerating warming by allowing vast areas of the Amazon rainforest to be burnt and logged.

Asked if he will tell Mr Bolsanaro when they meet that the clearance of rainforests must stop, Mr Johnson said: “Yes. We want to stop and reverse the global loss of biodiversity, including in the rainforest.

“I think it is in the long-term interests of Brazil and the people of Brazil to recognise the spectacular natural endowment that they have and to conserve it and I am sure that president Bolsanaro agrees with that.”

By the time they arrive in Glasgow, all countries need to have committed to larger NDC pledges and demonstrated that they are ready to make “very considerable progress” on cutting emissions by 2030, said Mr Johnson.

“Some countries are really stepping up to the plate, others – including some G20 countries – need to do much more. We’ll be making that argument and setting that out strongly in the next few days


Police Protect Eco-Activists From Angry Drivers As They Block Highway

Police have been filmed protecting “Insulate Britain” climate activists from angry motorists as they blocked the M25 motorway once again.

The footage shows a van driver upset at being held up, being forcibly led away from the so-called protesters sprawled across an access road as a large number of officers stand around doing nothing about it, at least at the time of the recording.

“You’re causing more pollution with all these cars sitting here just doing f*** all,” one driver railed at the activists, according to LBC. “You’re making people hate you. Go and protest London, go down to Downing Street,” he implored.

Senior officers have defended their supposedly “robust” response to the illegal actions, stressing the number of arrests carried out — eventually — but reports now indicate that some activists have been arrested multiple times, having been only briefly detained and then freed to return to future actions.

Police have also been filmed actually going out onto the road and stopping traffic themselves to allow protesters to go out and block it, with a woman officer recorded telling them: “[I]f any of you are in any discomfort or need anything, just let me know, and we’ll try and sort you out in a nice way.”

Even the equally ineffectual Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has been moved to anger by the lackadaisical attitude of the police, demanding “decisive action”.

The latest motorway “protest” comes after one man claimed his mother has been left paralyzed after a previous demonstration let him “caught for about six hours in traffic” while en route to the hospital with his mother, who had suffered a stroke.

“I was there with my mother for six hours watching her slip away, and I could do nothing,” he lamented in a call to LBC.

“When we got her to the hospital, the doctors said if we were to have gotten to them within 90 minutes, her symptoms, her recovery would have been minimal.


Are Low Wind Speeds Behind Britain’s Energy Crisis?

Why has Britain suddenly been plunged into an energy crisis, with spot prices for electricity rising to over £400 per MWh, ten times what they were this time last year?

The spike in global gas prices caused by economic recovery from Covid has been commented on often enough, as has the failure of Britain to maintain sufficient gas storage reserves – we have closed a large gas storage facility as other countries have been building up theirs’.

So, too, we have learned of the failure of many smaller energy companies to hedge the prices of their energy, thus putting them at risk of spikes in wholesale prices.

But there is one aspect to this crisis that has received rather too little comment: low wind speeds, which have reduced output from wind farms.

While the current lull is chiefly a vagary of the weather, global wind speeds have been trending downwards for several decades, threatening to undermine an energy strategy that is over-dependent on wind power.

According to the sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global mean land wind speed (excluding Australia) showed a fall of 0.063 meters per second per decade between 1979 and 2018.

Global wind speeds have been trending downwards for several decades

We hear little about this observed trend. Is this because it runs contrary to the alarmist claim that we face a future of ever-stronger storms?

In fact, the observational data shows not only a slight fall in mean wind speeds but also a reduction in the strength of storms right up to 60 degrees north – the latitude on which lie the Shetlands.

Given there are relatively few human settlements north of this latitude it suggests that most places are facing a lower risk from damaging winds.

But low wind speeds are certainly a threat to the wind power industry. Danish wind energy specialist Orsted recently issued a profit warning partly as a result of lower-than-expected wind speeds.

That wind energy has the problem of being intermittent has of course been known about since the beginning of the wind industry; it is obvious.

But a generalized fall in yield from wind farms threatens to disrupt any energy policy that is over-dependent on wind.

No one seems to be sure why global wind speeds over land are falling – whether as a result of changing atmospheric circulation, increasing urban development, or whatever – but research at Germany’s Max Planck Institute has concluded that existing wind turbines themselves could play a serious role in lessening the wind power available to be extracted by future wind farms.

The theoretical study found that a turbine in an area covered with wind farms could be expected to generate only 20 percent of the energy that an isolated turbine would produce.

That is a seriously large reduction which raises the question: just how many wind farms can a country like Britain absorb before the turbines are all stealing power from each other, and are we doomed to suffer repeated energy crises thanks to our overreliance on the wind?


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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