Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ethanol Efficiency - A great post by Advanced Biofuels USA

A great blog post (see the original post HERE) by Advanced Biofuels USA by Robert Kozak (NOTE: This is a nonprofit organization I am unfamiliar with other than this post). The article discusses a graph produced by the NRDC showing the CO2 intensification of various energy sources..

The big things I really wanted to pull out of this post.  I haven't seen this said better:

This trendline also got me thinking about how long it took the petroleum industry to reach its current efficiency that allows it to produce a gallon of gasoline for about 26 lbs CO2. As it turns out, the answer is at least sixty years -1910-1970.
Production and quality improvements have been slow in the petroleum industry. While the first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859, demand for gasoline did not really exist until 1900 when cars with internal combustion engines began to be produced. It really took off after 1908 when the Ford Model T began production.  However, neither performance (octane rating) nor conversion efficiency were quick to follow.
For instance, the catalytic cracking of crude oil into gasoline, which doubled existing yields of gasoline, was not developed until the 1930s. Octane ratings, a measure of gasoline’s ability to withstand pressure to produce more power (current regular gasoline has a rating of 87 and ethanol 105+), were about 40 until Allied aircraft needed high octane fuels to fight German and Japanese planes in WWII. This octane development work was largely financed by the US government. The current hydrocracking technology which again increased gasoline yields, did not come on-line until the 1960s, while the current rate of oil to gasoline conversion was reached after the 1973-4 oil shock.

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