I was just reading Carlos’s blog, and it says that the US will want to import their “alcool” (ethanol in English) fuel. I don’t believe we have such intentions. If we were to consume ethanol in mass quantities, it would be from corn growers, and through government subsidies before we rely on another country.
The U.S., potentially the largest market for the Brazilian ethanol, currently imposes trade restrictions on Brazilian ethanol in order to encourage domestic ethanol production, most of which has so far been based on processing corn instead of sugar cane or soybeans, which is much less efficient. There is concern that to allowing the heavily subsidized Brazilian ethanol to enter the U.S. market without taxation will undercut the budding ethanol industry in the United States (see a letter from six Democratic Senators to President Bush at http://harkin.senate.gov/news.cfm?id=255348 ). Others argue that rather than impose trade restrictions on the import of the Brazilian product, that the U.S. should make subsidies of its own available to support its fledgling domestic producers.
Well, I did a little research on this, and found out about ethanol in the US. I don’t know that it will really work in the near future. I lifted this off USA Today’s website, and I just wanted to quote some of the pertinent information here about why ethanol probably won’t catch on, at least for a number of years-
Why the USA might not embrace E85
Despite Brazil’s experience, don’t expect the USA to embrace E85 fuel, because:
• You can’t find it. Where the ethanol is, people aren’t. Only 500 fuel stations sell E85 and most of those are in the lightly populated Midwest, which grows the corn to make the alcohol. The heavily populated coasts have only a few E85 outlets, and most are reserved for private fleets.
• You’d probably have to buy a new car or truck to use it. The FFVs already out there are roughly 2% of all vehicles on the road, leaving Americans to replace the other 98% with new vehicles that have the corrosion-resistant fuel systems, special fuel injectors, sensors and computer controls, and hardened and coated engine parts necessary to survive alcohol’s corrosive onslaught and compensate for lower energy content.
• You’d have to fill up more often. You’d be at the pump every four or five days instead of once a week. Ethanol contains about two-thirds as much energy as gasoline. The higher the concentration of alcohol in fuel, the more fuel you have to use to go the same distance. A vehicle would burn 1.4 times as much E85 as straight gasoline, the U.S. Department of Energy says.
A survey by luxury automaker Lexus found that the biggest reason people said they’d consider a fuel-saving Lexus hybrid vehicle was that its improved mileage meant fewer stops at the filling station. Environmental benefits and reducing petroleum use were secondary. E85 vehicles could have a big marketing challenge against that kind of attitude.
• Your vehicle wouldn’t make the most of the fuel. FFVs are able to burn E85 but are tuned for best performance on gasoline because it’s abundant and E85 isn’t. An engine would have to be designed from scratch to fully exploit E85’s higher octane and overcome its inferior energy content.
“If you were using 100% E85, you could tune the engine and … maybe get 2% more power,” says Ken Kridner, the GM engineer who helped adapt GM V-6s to E85 capability. The Energy Department is more optimistic, suggesting gains of 3% to 5%.
Despite the barriers, the ethanol and auto industries are keen on E85’s promise. “E85 is going to be a much more significant market for us down the road,” RFA’s Dinneen says. “But you have to get more vehicles on the road that can use E85, and you need more outlets.”
“E85 holds great promise for fuel diversity, but we need to move from hundreds of fuel stations to thousands,” says Curt Magleby, manager of public policy for Ford Motor. Ford and ethanol producer VeraSun are offering to help pay the $3,000 to $5,000 it would cost a fuel-station owner, in the simplest case, to convert a gasoline pump to one that dispenses E85. Even so, a station owner might have to fight his gasoline supplier.
Some major oil companies refuse to allow alternative-fuel pumps near the regular gasoline pumps, if they allow them at all. The oil companies don’t have control over the quality and consistency of E85 so don’t want it sold under the big service station canopies that carry the oil company brand names and logos, they say.
“Alternatives to gasoline can succeed,” the California Energy Commission says in an analysis of ethanol and other non-petroleum fuels. “Unfortunately, a chicken-and-egg situation exists. Public acceptance and a healthy level of consumer demand are needed to make alternative-fuel vehicles viable, but a network of refueling facilities must also be in place. Oil companies are reluctant to build such facilities when vehicles themselves are not abundant. It is difficult to compete with tens of thousands of gasoline pumps and tens of millions of gasoline vehicles.”