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Brian Westenhaus

Brian Westenhaus

Brian is the editor of the popular energy technology site New Energy and Fuel. The site’s mission is to inform, stimulate, amuse and abuse the…

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Ethanol Works and is Here to Stay

Jennifer Johnson at Wahpeton North Dakota’s Daily News has looked into ethanol smack in the midst of America’s prime oil boom of the Bakken oil field. For all the naysayers, ethanol is here and looks to stay.

Ethanol fuel blends increased by 133 percent in North Dakota in 2010.  It seems to be because North Dakota does what no other state seems to be able to get done.  They’re putting in the blender pumps at the service station – at least that’s the suggestion from the North Dakota Department of Commerce.

Ethanol Blender Pump
Ethanol Blender Pump Diagram.

The Dakota Plains gas station in Lidgerwood ND has been offering the blend since last March.  Weldon Hoesl, the stations general manager, could not pinpoint how much E85 usage has increased this year – the crude oil market drives the price of ethanol, and usage usually follows.  He does explain he has noticed more of an interest in blends for older vehicles that can’t use the fuel saying, “People just driving their regular vehicles can use the 20-30 (percent ethanol) without any loss of gas mileage, and the extra ethanol prevents gas line freezing so they don’t have to put in a little jug of antifreeze. Plus, the price is cheaper on a 20 percent blend.”

Well, there’s a real world experience – blowing some reality check on the E-15 argument that has so many in a huff.

Ethanol blending pump showing octane ratings
Ethanol Blending Pump Showing Octane Ratings. Imagine the compression ratio gains if you could use 105 octane.

Hoesl notes what might be even more relevant, people get to choose – pointing out, “They can choose what they want to burn and what works best for them. We’re supporting ourselves by using the ethanol product that not only helps our farmers, but it uses less gasoline – when you get E85, we’re not dependent on our oil fields to support us.”  Actually getting to E-40 almost gets the U.S. independently supplied.

Do you suppose there is a lot of “Support America” sentiment up there?

These results for people, business and for the country as a whole are being led by North Dakota’s Biofuels Blender Pump Program.  The program has installed about 117 new blender pumps in 27 communities across the state. The program provides retailers with a $5,000 tax incentive toward installing the pump and the North Dakota Corn Council gives an additional $2,500 per pump.

The program support gives away the motivating parties.  Corn is grown way up there, maybe not at the yields seen in Iowa or Illinois, but the value is there to the state and the local growers.  More sales supports a higher price that yields more income taxes from the farmers and they’re bright enough to feed the market some supply support.

Keep in mind there are about 22 states in the U.S. where corn is grown.  This idea is showing legs, and the legs are giving consumers a choice.  One might expect that in a small town newspaper there would be blowback in the comments.  Your writer has let this article sit for over a week – and no one has posted a comment – not even one about hard stating, destroyed fuel system components – nothing posted at all.  One would expect at least the ethanol opponents would have found the article and pounded the opposing view.

They might now.  But it’s to late to be credible.

Ethanol works.  In a fuel market replete with market distortions the U.S. has an option and is using it.  All the fighting aside, ethanol is closing in on a million barrels a day of oil equivalent, keeping s a huge share of the consumer’s gasoline fuel dollars in the U.S.


It works, in oil patch no less.  It can work all across the country and the world as well.

By. Brian Westenhaus

Source: Ethanol in Oil Patch

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Leave a comment
  • Anonymous on February 10 2011 said:
    Yes - ethanol works. Especially when the federal government subsidizes it so that the tax payer foots the bill.
  • Anonymous on February 10 2011 said:
    America has funded this failing program and ethanol is nothing but a hoax. The $.54 tariff on imported ethanol and $.45 per gallon tax credit and the mandate to put it at the pump are the only thing that holds ethanol up. The environmentalists who pushed for the ethanol program to begin with have absolutely washed their hands of it. Just think, 39% of the American corn crop now goes for the 10% gasoline EPA mandated blend rate, yet the EPA is pushing to raise the blend rate to 15. $8.50 wheat and $7.00 corn seems swanky on small town main street… but as Americans are struggling to feed their families…much of the world starves…ell Ethanol doesn’t seem so cozy any more…
  • Anonymous on February 11 2011 said:
    I would rather put it this way: some ethanol will work, depending on the place and on subsidies. And as for the subsidies, lets think about this: bettr small or moderate subsidies than excruciatingly high costs for imported oil.
  • Anonymous on February 12 2011 said:
    No, it does not. Subsidies work!
  • Anonymous on February 17 2011 said:
    Ethanol works AND it keeps jobs here and supports the ag states. Wouldnt it be nice to not not send billions of dollars to countries that would like to blow us up? And the subsidies, they dont go to the ethanol guys - they go to the big oil companies that blend the gas and ethanol and to you and I as tax credits at the pump. The oil companies are making a killing off of this but want the public to believe its the ethanol companies (that is where you should be a little pi**ed off!)And a quick second on food prices - take corn flakes $0.05 worth of corn in a box of cereal. If corn went up 3x that would be 15 cents!!! Not the $1.00 per box that the food companies are charging and blaming on ethanol - ooops, dont look at how their profits increased too.People its time to stop blaming and start supporting. Its time to stop shipping jobs to other countries. Its time to keep our kids at home rather than fighting so we can put $4/gal terrorist-based gas in our cars!
  • Anonymous on February 17 2011 said:
    The US pays more than $255 billion every year to protect oil from Middle East sheiks -- here's the story: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/04/study-middle-east-oil-scecurity-cost-us-78-trillion-over-last-three-decades/1With ethanol, we can displace foreign oil, hire American workers, and keep our money at work in the U.S. I'd rather build up Fargo than Fallujah, Des Moines instead of Abu Dhabi, Casselton instead of Caracas.
  • Anonymous on February 17 2011 said:
    Ethanol is the best thing that ever happened to the US! For every one of the non supporters You best have Your sons and daughters in the middle east in the war. Oil is the whole reason we are there! There is no reason that the US is not 100 percent ethenol as brazil is! If You would sooner support the middle east maybe its time You move there!
  • Anonymous on February 17 2011 said:
    Corn to Ethanol is the US version of the Easter Island logging industry
  • Anonymous on February 18 2011 said:
    You are partially correct, Dave. Better ethanol - or some other alternative - than stupid wars, but 100 percent ethanol is too much to hope for. What we (i.e. I) want are countries like the US and Sweden thinking in terms of long term energy requirements, and not making the kind of mistakes that the good George W. made and the excellent Barack Obama continues to make.
  • Anonymous on February 25 2011 said:
    Food for fuel is not a reasonable trade-off. Take a look at the energy conversion statistics. It takes more food to drive a few (under 10) miles than to feed a person for a whole day! Extrapolate what that means based on the American lifestyle. How much do you drive daily? In food-based-fuel, what does that convert into? The world's biggest eaters will soon be vehicles, not people. What population will the globe sustain then?I fully support production of fuel from waste materials, but the use of consumable food for fuel is wrong. In a greedy, evil sort of way.

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