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Consumer Ethanol Appliance Promised By Year's End 365

Posted by kdawson
from the and-a-pony dept.
Newscloud brings us news of a startup called E-Fuel promising to ship a home-brew ethanol plant, the size of a washer-dryer, for under $10,000 by the end of this year. We've had plenty of discussions about $1/gal. fuel — these guys want to let you make it at home. The company says it plans to develop a NAFTA-enabled distribution network for inedible sugar from Mexico at 1/8th the cost of trade-protected sugar, to use as raw material for making ethanol. A renewable energy expert from UC Berkeley is quoted: "There's a lot of hurdles you have to overcome. It's entirely possible that they've done it, but skepticism is a virtue."
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Consumer Ethanol Appliance Promised By Year's End

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  • Shortsighted? (Score:5, Informative)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:39PM (#23217976) Homepage
    TFA mentions that the device requires 14 Lbs. (6.5kg) of NAFTA-approved nonedible sugar from Mexico, which costs approximately $0.025 per pound in addition to several other "ingredients". Regular "edible" sugar costs about $0.20 per pound.

    Apart from the blatant inefficiencies present in transporting these quantities of raw materials, I imagine that the cost of sugar will skyrocket even if the thing actually works.

    Probably not a good thing...
    • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:56PM (#23218088) Homepage Journal
      Not only is Ethanol shortsighted it is exactly the wrong direction for us to take. Ethanol is taken from food sources and results in local, regional and, as it increases in popularity, global increases in food prices as well as predictable food shortages.

      Besides the inefficiencies of transporting the raw materials, the finished product CANNOT be piped due to the inherent water in the ethanol rusting/corroding the pipes. So, the only means of transportation is truck, train or barge -- fossil fuel transportation systems.

      [!-- insert face-palm photo here --]

      Stupid, stupid, stupid.
      • by littlerubberfeet (453565) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:05PM (#23218142)
        Two points: I agree that ethanol is the wrong way to go. ANY distilled biofuel is a bad idea. We need to start differentiating between distillates like corn or sugar ethanol and refined products like biodiesel. Biodiesel is best made from non-food sources like switchgrass. Incidentally, many biodiesel materials stocks are not grown on food-producing farmland.

        Second point: Trains use (1/5) the fuel of trucks per ton-mile, barges (1/10) and the engines are far easier to convert to biodiesel. Each cylinder in a train engine is something like 2 liters, and there are 12 of them. The engines are tolerant of crap. In fact on EMD locomotives, one never changes the oil, just the oil filter. I agree though, that using fuel to move fuel is not good.

        The point of mentioning trains though, is that railroads have to pay HUGE property taxes on the one best solution to their pollution. The railroads would see their property taxes TRIPLE on electrification improvements. That, coupled with high capital costs means that railroads won't touch electrification.

        If they did electrify, rail transportation could potentially be carbon-neutral. They merely need to buy the power from a renewable source.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by $inisterAngel (768361)
          Oh you're damn right you change the oil on an EMD! The boat I worked on had oil changes on the mains every 2000 hours, filters at 1000 hours. Also, just because EMDs have large displacement (the boat I was on had 2 GM EMD 20-645-E7s - 645 Cu inches per cylinder x 20 cylinders x 2 engines = big propulsion) doesn't mean you can feed them crap. There's the entire fuel system you have to take into account as well when dealing with an engine.
          • HuH? I thought bunker fuel basically was the dregs. I'm pretty sure bio-fuel would be less nasty that that junk, as long as it has the proper combustion properties.
        • by vhogemann (797994) <victor AT hogemann DOT com> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:14PM (#23218654) Homepage
          Ethanol might not work for the USA, but don't discard it so fast.

          Look at Brazil for an example, here we make Ethanol from sugar-cane.It had virtually no impact on food price or availability, mostly because the culture is concentrated at the north-east region while our grain production is more concentrate on the middle and southern regions.

          Also, Ethanol harvested from sugar-cane is a good alternative for lots of developing coutries, because it would give them a valuable commodity to export.

          Ethanol would be good for Europe too, because they would have a cheaper alternative to petrol.

          But Ethanol is bad for the USA, mostly because you don't get the same level of production from corn, so it's more expensive. And you have to dedicate a bigger slice of land to produce enough to supply the demand for fuel, and this means less space for food.

          Also, the North American Petrol industry don't want to see their market taken away.

          Ethanol is viable, and it's already a reality here at Brazil. My car can run on both ethanol and gasoline, but since Ethanol is about 30% CHEAPER I almost never put gasoline on it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Gibbs-Duhem (1058152)

            I would direct interested people to the following article at the oil drum. It discusses why Brazil's ethanol program is energetically feasible while the US program is impossible. Basically, they demonstrate that as soon as the energy gain is less than around 5:1, the economy spends all it's money on maintaining current energy needs instead of expanding. A ratio of less than 5:1 results in gradual degradation and stagnation of the economy.

            The Oil Drum [theoildrum.com]

            It's an *extremely* interesting read. It also explai

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            And the fact that your country men are destroying the Amazon at a blazing pace for farmland while your government stands around mostly being inept makes you guys the poster child for the consequences attached to ethanol.
          • by polar red (215081) on Monday April 28, 2008 @02:30AM (#23220548)

            Ethanol would be good for Europe too
            I think Europe will move to electrical cars. (trains are allready electric - diesels can't go very fast) Windmills and solarcells are being put up by the thousands over here.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Loconut1389 (455297)
        Maybe I missed something, but do you count inedible sugar as food? Would that still cut into edible food supplies? Also, what's wrong with plastic pipelines? They already make plastic water mains- is a plastic pipeline impossible- or is static a problem?

        Please fill in the details for me/us?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zblack_eagle (971870)
          I don't think that inedible sugar would cut into food supplies in the US. It is likely that the sugar is rendered inedible so that it isn't subject to tariffs on importation into the US. But if demand goes up, it's going to raise the price of the edible sugar in Mexico and elsewhere. Like corn-derived ethanol is making corn and corn-derived foodstuffs more expensive, so will this with sugar. Really, ethanol should not be made from foodstuffs, only waste. And if we're wasting foodstuffs, we should be reduci
        • by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:24PM (#23218282)
          When governments such as the United States' starts offering farmers subsidies if they switch over to growing switchgrass and corn for ethanol, those farmers stop making food. This is the reason for the rise in price of flour, bread, beer, etc.
      • by Trogre (513942)
        Plastic pipes?

        *shrugs*

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by wpiman (739077)
          I hear you. This is a very solvable problem. Solutions for converting gas pipelines to hydrogen pipelines have already been devised-- this is a far smaller issue.

          A bottle of tequila will sit indefinitely in a glass bottle, one could simple line existing pipe infrastructure with glass or any other material that ethanol doesn't corrode.

      • by potat0man (724766)
        Your alternative, sir, that doesn't involve fossil fuels and allows for personal vehicles that can go over 300 miles at reasonable speeds carrying reasonable cargo without refueling?

        So the big downside you're pointing out here is that we have to transport things for it to work. So what? We can convert the transport devices to run off ethanol or other biofuels, or electricity in the case of trains.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by potat0man (724766)
          Oh yeah, and... increased food prices are actually a good thing for all but the richest people in the world. The poorest people in the world make their money from selling food. Higher prices means better lives for and faster development for people in the poorest parts of the world.

          Even then you might argue that increased food prices are even GOOD for the rich people in the world since the development of the third world is ultimately good for everyone. More people with money means more customers which mea
          • In theory (not necessarily reality, hence inflation) there is a finite amount of wealth in the world. (read money) So what builds wealth for some ALWAYS takes wealth from someone else. Back to inflation... Governments and people try "creating" more wealth, but this just results in the devaluation of all existing wealth to achieve equilibrium.

            Also of note is the fact that ethanol is a good way to keep having fuel when we run out of fossil fuels, but it still takes carbon that otherwise wouldn't be in the a
          • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:55PM (#23218900) Journal

            Oh yeah, and... increased food prices are actually a good thing for all but the richest people in the world. The poorest people in the world make their money from selling food. Higher prices means better lives for and faster development for people in the poorest parts of the world.
            Are you serious?
            The price of rice, palm oil, wheat, and corn has risen by 60% to 100% over the last year.

            Within the last month, there have been food riots in 11 countries.
            Numerous countries have banned rice exports.
            The ones that haven't are raising export tariffs by large amounts.

            As for what's causing all this, the US deserves a big heaping portion of the blame, but there are also ~3 other major contributing factors, like the ongoing droughts in Australia and Russia and changing eating habits by the Indian & Chinese middle class.

            To specifically rebut your "better lives for and faster development for people in the poorest parts of the world" their fuel and fertilizer prices have gone up, just like everyone else's. Oh, and they're the ones rioting over food prices.
            • No the prices did not rise much. It is the US Dollar that devalued.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ThousandStars (556222)
              As for what's causing all this, the US deserves a big heaping portion of the blame, but there are also ~3 other major contributing factors, like the ongoing droughts in Australia and Russia and changing eating habits by the Indian & Chinese middle class.

              This is why it's hard to read /. comments at times: highly moderated comments with no substance to back them up. The problems with world food distribution have far more to do with trade barriers [nytimes.com] than food production or any other issue save perhaps inf

          • by Guppy (12314)

            Oh yeah, and... increased food prices are actually a good thing for all but the richest people in the world. The poorest people in the world make their money from selling food.
            Farming poor make their money from selling food. Urban poor have to buy it. The mix that you get will depend very much on a particular country -- their population size, how much arable land, and such.
          • by LadyLucky (546115) on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:42AM (#23220054) Homepage
            I'm afraid you are completely incorrect on this issue. The vast bulk of poor people do not produce a surplus of food, they are either subsistence farmers, or urbanized poor. In neither case does increased food prices help them. There are now tens of millions cast back into extreme poverty because of global food prices.

            Even for those in poor countries that export foods, the developed world has so many tarrifs and subsidies that they are still not able to benefit from it (USA and EU, take a bow).

            Don't believe me? Fine. Last week's Economist [economist.com] had their leader article on exactly this topic. Go and read it. The Economist is an economic liberal, you will find them promoting trade and economic prosperity. They know far more about this issue than either you or me.

      • by bogaboga (793279)

        Not only is Ethanol shortsighted it is exactly the wrong direction for us to take.

        Tell that to the Brazillians who are reportedly 100% free of oil, and are running all their vehicles off ethanol. The problems you sight are legitimate but not insurmountable. If we divert just one-third of the monthly expenditures in Iraq to solving the problems you highlight we will be very far.

      • Most stupid idea at my sense. First of all, that's a waste of resources to build and sell a large number of systems to convert food to ethanol, it is better to make it in large scale plants. Second, it encourage people to waste resources by giving them the impression they can be self-sufficient rather than ecouraging a global plan to save energy and burn less fuel. And third, I don't think this can be a money-wise viable choice.
    • by mi (197448)

      The main reason I can see for the scheme to work, is the "saving" from highway taxes embedded in the price of each regularly-purchased fuel...

      Apart from the blatant inefficiencies present in transporting these quantities of raw materials, I imagine that the cost of sugar will skyrocket even if the thing actually works.

      The inefficiencies of "trade-protection" keeping the regular sugar prices high don't bother you? ;-) Anyway, the cost of the "inedible" sugar will unlikely exceed that of the edible kind, wi

      • The economics behind Corn/Sugar production/sale have gotten complicated and counter-intuitive to the point where I could see it swinging either way.

        It might not be sustainable in the long-term, but hopefully it'll finally make us adopt sensible policies regarding farm subsidies and tariffs, which in turn will lead us to a renewable energy source, and actually fulfill some of the goals NAFTA was supposed to deliver.

        Unfortunately, nobody seems to be too big of a fan of NAFTA at the moment, which is a shame gi
  • Oh, lol, internets! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:39PM (#23217978)
    They didn't mention the little fact about having to get a frelling federal ethanol production license. I looked into this a few years back, and...YIKES. (Pay lots of money. Send in a sample. Keep logs of your activities, etc. etc.)

    Oh, and how about calculating in electricity costs?
  • $10,000?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:40PM (#23217984) Homepage
    That would take a LONG time to "pay for itself" and this doesn't even take into consideration the various restrictions on the use of such devices that will most assuredly follow shortly after competing interests start buying laws to that end. Further, what will the cost of unprocessed materials be? Ah yes, they'll go up in demand and the prices will rise too.

    This doesn't strike me as a good alternative.
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:41PM (#23218000)

    The company says it plans to develop a NAFTA-enabled distribution network for inedible sugar from Mexico at 1/8th the cost of trade-protected sugar, to use as raw material for making ethanol.

    Of course, once this machine is actually available, I predict the price of that inedible sugar will suddenly rise to a level where using it to create ethanol yields a final price-per-gallon that is comparable to just buying E85 at your local gas station. After all, the sugar will suddenly have a much higher value in use as a fuel verses whatever they do with it now.
    • by shbazjinkens (776313) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:49PM (#23218050)

      After all, the sugar will suddenly have a much higher value in use as a fuel verses whatever they do with it now.
      Answer: In addition to ethanol production already underway, it's used as sweetfeed for horses, pigs and some other livestock.

      Count on other things to go up as well.
    • by potat0man (724766)
      Wrong.

      Eventually the price of raw materials MAY make home production of ethanol approach the same price as E85 or whatever other commercially available fuel happens to be offered, including petrol gasoline. But the hassle of buying the raw materials and maintaining the machine, plus the initial investment costs of buying such machines will mean it will always be cheaper to make it yourself. It depends on what your time is worth to you. Though, you get the added security, in this case, of being to produce
  • by nweaver (113078) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:45PM (#23218018) Homepage
    You've got the energy cost in growing the raw sugar, transporting a LOT of raw sugar, and distillation. WHich means a LOT of energy goes into this. And you only really save on taxes (beacuse otherwise, they could just do this in a big factory and bring it too, duh, gas pumps).

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:53PM (#23218076) Homepage Journal
      North Carolina will probably hunt you down and charge you with tax evasion. They did it in 2007 for a guy buying vegetable oil and converting it to biodiesel.

      hell they have been known to test fuel at events, to see if people are using fuel they don't like. They check NC registered trucks to make sure they don't buy fuel over the border.

      you think that they just won't slap a silly tax on the sugar?

      The one thing people keep ignoring as cars become more efficient are tax addicted governments are going to have to raise them to make up for the losses because of our efficiency and if we circumvent the whole tax strategy they have they will simply make a new one
      • The tax savings are SMALL.

        EG, in CA, you'll still have to pay sales tax on the raw sugar. So your only savings are on the dedicated gas taxes:

        With the federal gas tax at .184 $/gallon, and another ~.20 $/gallon. So you could save only .40 $/gallon.

        While if you could do Ethanol for $1/gallon production, you could make a fortune, as thats energy-equivelent to about .8 gallons of gasoline.

        So that would be "make gasoline at $1.25/gallon". With oil prices NEVER looking back, thats a LOT of profit to be made.
  • E* (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DogDude (805747)
    First off, just about any company named E* isn't going to be a company worth doing business with. Didn't anybody learn anything from the dot-bomb bullshit just a few years ago?

    Secondly, this will fly when somebody comes out with a gadget that will accept all kinds of organic household waste, not just some product that you have one source for. If there's a device that'll take all of the stuff I normally throw on my compost pile, I'll buy one.
    • First off, just about any company named E* isn't going to be a company worth doing business with. Didn't anybody learn anything from the dot-bomb bullshit just a few years ago?

      Yeah, like eBay. Look how those have tanked. Clearly not something anybody should ever have invested in. Or Electronic Arts.

      Not to mention many pre dot-com companies from Edison through Eastman to Exxon.

      I think one thing people learned in the dot-com era (or maybe not) is that investment strategies should look at something more than just the first letter of a company name?

  • by kidsizedcoffin (1197209) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:53PM (#23218078)
    They already have consumer ethanol appliances, they go by other names: bread makers, home beer breweries, and the like. Won't help me much on getting around in my car, but I'll be too full and drunk to care.
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @07:54PM (#23218080) Homepage Journal
    The time-honored method of turning sugars into ethanol is to ferment the sugars; the yeast culture will excrete ethanol until they perish in their waste products at about 7% ethanol.

    Then you just distill it to concentrate the ethanol. You'd probably have to make two or three passes through the still to get it up to E85 level.

    There's a couple of fairly significant problems with this scheme, though. One is the energy that's used to operate the still; where does that come from, how much does it cost? And the other one - and one that'll be very difficult to overcome - is that ethanol is the stuff we drink. Dilute ethanol with distilled water at about 50/50 and you get some so-so vodka. Add this or that flavor and you've got a party.

    The BATF isn't going to like this one little bit. Liquor taxes are an important source of revenue; they'll insist that you comply with their bureaucratic regulations if you're going to make any kind of product that contains ethanol.

    And if this magic box will produce 170 proof at $2 per gallon - how much of that is going in the car and how much will be going into mixed drinks? Imagine the parties; gallons and gallons of alcohol and more being produced in every neighborhood every day. I suspect the law of unintended consequences is going to kick in on this one...

    • by Dr. Spork (142693)
      Yup, exactly what I was thinking. Of course, if I spent the $10,000 on drinks I let someone else distill, I'd probably be better off. But you're right, in a frat house this device could pay for itself in two years!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gatzke (2977)

      For distillation, you don't use "two or three passes". You use a distillation column with a few (20-40) trays. Ethanol comes out the top, water out the bottom (usually).

      It takes energy, but usually you can do heat integration to save a lot of energy in a chemical plant. If you have a stream that need to get hotter and another that needs to cool down, you put them through a heat exchanger to save on utilities.

      EtOH has another problem, it forms an azeotrope. You can't easily get above 95% EtOH using simpl
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      The time-honored method of turning sugars into ethanol is to ferment the sugars; the yeast culture will excrete ethanol until they perish in their waste products at about 7% ethanol.

      Then you just distill it to concentrate the ethanol. You'd probably have to make two or three passes through the still to get it up to E85 level.

      Yeast cultures have gone a long way from the days of 7%, especially if you're distilling.

      At home, with a modern turbo yeast, you can get ~14% alcohol in 24 hours and 22% alcohol in 5~10 days if you add extra sugar.

      Some yeasts ferment cleaner than others, but if you're distilling, you might as well go as hot and as fast as the yeast will tolerate, since the impurities will come out in the fractionating column. With fractional distillation, you should never have to make more than one pass to get 95% alcohol.

    • by amper (33785) *
      There is a BATF exception for home-brewed ethanol for fuel usage. I think it's 200 gallons a year, or some such, but I forget off the top of my head. The product is almost certain to include some method of mandatory denaturing, however.
  • Then people still store flammable ethanol in their garages and houses. Remember how that went in the...umm...like 60's or whatever, I dunno, I wasn't alive back then. You know, during all the gasoline shortages when people stored dozens of gallons in their garages. It turned out to be a bit of a fire hazard lol. But if people can make their own fuel without having to ship fuel across the country to the gas stations, that'd save like twice the gasoline than people think. Plus it would employ mexicans at
  • Petrol engines run incredibly badly on pure ethanol, unless they're set up correctly. You'd either need to get perfectly consistent results from batch to batch, or you'd need to be really really good at tuning engines (and I mean tuning as in carefully adjusting fuelling and ignition, not sticking blue LED windscreen washers on).

    If you're going to use biomass fuel, use biodiesel. The petrol engine is dead. Let it pass with some dignity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by potat0man (724766)
      Or you could just go buy a new Ford Taurus or any other flex fuel vehicle and let the car self-adjust to account for changes in fuel quality.
  • These guys are trying to sell a moonshine still. You can build them very easily. You can bet that whatever impurities they have in "non-edible sugar" will be distilled out.

    I think this is a ridiculously inefficient process, and people will want to drink the product instead of burning it.

    What could possibly go wrong?
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Even if its inefficient, once petrol gets to 6 bucks a gallon, it will be cheaper to make alcohol.

      Below 6 a gallon, its a wash or a loss. ( but still worth it if you can, as at least its domestic. )
  • Ever seen a backwoods still?

    The problem is getting the 'fuel' to feed this thing. To really make it cheap you need to grow your own, which is way out of the realm of possibility for the average person.
  • I'd be worried about other water-soluble impurities making it across their filtration system. What kind of contaminants are in that low-budget sugar? Ethanol isn't the smallest molecule in the world, and I can see at a minimum metallic ions and chlorides easily passing through. Do you really want chloride deposits building up in your engine? One "failure" caused by a bad tank of ethanol could cost you a lot.
  • by soupdevil (587476) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:15PM (#23218224)
    Is this "the answer" for our consumption and supply issues with gasoline? Of course not. There is not going to be a single answer, at least not until we figure out a better battery combined with a global solar grid. Meanwhile, prepare for a myriad of small solutions, like biodiesel, ethanol, heavy crude sources like tar sands and shale, converted coal, none of which are perfect on their own, but which, together, can bridge us to the next big thing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gz718 (586910)
      Better yet, don't drive and ride a bike.

      Always amazed by the posters on this site never consider that you can live just fine without a car or being car light. Programmers should appreciate this simple, elegant solution to the oil problem by just reducing the number of miles you travel by car.

      Get fresh air, get exercise, get sick less often, get healthy, get energy, pollute less, enjoy your commute, use a means of transportation that you can actually repair and maintain. Ride a bike.
      • Most of the current "green" momentum is about encouraging more consumption rather than less. The "green" movement these days is mostly driven by corporations looking to sell more products, so any solution which reduces consumer spending will be marginalized.
  • I would hate for there to be any incentive to change the current urban-sprawl mentality of a nation built on cheap energy. We need to continue to make things needlessly far apart, segregating housing and businesses in such a way that even when they are only a mile apart a car is required to travel between them. Just imagine all the ugly stores right next to houses and sidewalks all over the place that would have to spring up if we couldn't afford to drive our SUV's 3/4 of a mile for a gallon of milk.
    • I prefer cities too. But some people don't. And if we can allow those people to live their fuel-intensive lifestyles in a way that doesn't rely on foreign imports or a net carbon addition to the atmosphere then let's do it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        They don't have to live in the cities, but we don't have to support infrastructure to make their lives easier. Suburbia is probably the biggest mistake of the 20th century.
        • by FLEB (312391)
          Practical application of this sentiment being...?

          In a free society, you have to work with people, not against them. There's still plenty of dependence upon people in suburban or rural areas, and any manner of uprooting them that could work fast enough to create the needed benefit would be completely unfeasable. Even if you could get people to move, you'd just trade in long car drives for suburban blight (which we're starting to see already as a result of reurbanization and mass-relocation-- more as a result
  • how about putting the 10 grand towards a vehicle that uses less fuel?
  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:41PM (#23218424) Homepage Journal
    I am sure the International Ant Coalition will have something to say about this. It could get ugly folks.
  • ....terrorist.

    Lets not forget about them mobile WMD plants we saw pictures of.

    This will help make the spying on US citizens seem legit.
  • if this is such a great idea, why not just set up a medium-sized production plant, make ethanol from "inedible sugar", and make some money?

    What do they mean by "inedible sugar", anyway? Bagasse [wikipedia.org]? Ultra-high cellulose sugar cane? [grain.org] It's not a standard term.

    Besides, shipping a solid material to homes to make ethanol, then getting rid of the solid waste, is an incredibly inefficient process. You're going to need maybe 150-200 pounds of sugar to fill up the tank of an SUV. Then you have to get rid of mayb

    • by couchslug (175151)
      "if this is such a great idea, why not just set up a medium-sized production plant, make ethanol from "inedible sugar", and make some money?"

      Because that would require much more capital and is more work than milking suckers out of mad cash for home production appliances.

  • There are worldwide food riots, right now. So is converting food into fuel a good idea?
  • Bad bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ugen (93902) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:20PM (#23218688)
    This whole Ethanol idea is a disaster waiting to happen.

    A simple fact - Mexico produces a total of 5 million tons of sugar a year. That amount, according to the article, is enough to make about 800 million gallons of ethanol. US consumes 400 million gallons of gasoline a DAY for transportation. That means the entire crop of Mexican sugar would be completely used up by cars in TWO days. What would we do the rest of the year I don't know. And guess what this would do to sugar prices. Also - no more sugar in your food either.

    And if the proposition is to use this as an addition to oil-based fuels, well - we are talking less than 1% of total gasoline requirement from entire Mexican crop. This would hardly make a dent in oil consumption, but sure as heck would wreck havoc on the sugar and food markets.

  • by FranTaylor (164577) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:31PM (#23218750)
    We Irish had an advanced civilization long ago based on this technology, but then we started drinking the damned stuff...
  • The premise of the E-Fuel 100 MicroFueler is you pay 10K to have a pre-made still (for lack of a better word) to make ethanol. Then you take your home-brew and put it into your car. I'll let others poke holes in this approach.

    For $10,000 you can convert your gas powered car to be powered by electricity. "A typical conversion, if it is using all new parts, costs between $5,000 and $10,000 (not counting the cost of the donor vehicle or labor). The costs break down like this:

    • Batteries - $1,000 to $2,000
    • Motor - $1,000 to $2,000
    • Controller - $1,000 to $2,000
    • Adapter plate - $500 to $1,000
    • Other (motors, wiring, switches, etc.) - $500 to $1,000"
    The advantage here would be a form of daily transportation with zero-emissions, using a quiet motor that's cheaper to operate per mile (3).

    References

    1. 1)http://auto.howstuffworks.com/electric-car7.htm [howstuffworks.com]
    2. 2)http://www.electroauto.com/info/cost.shtml [electroauto.com]
    3. 3)http://www.ccds.charlotte.nc.us/~jarrett/EV/cost.php [charlotte.nc.us]
  • I already have a "Consumer Ethanol Appliance":

    It's called a Beer Bong.
  • My Grampaw made Moonshine and his still didn't cost $10,000...
  • For the last hundred years, getting fuel for internal combustion engines has basically been a matter of sticking a giant slurpee straw into the ground and pumping it out. We're having a hard time grasping that the Slurpee cup is running dry, and our first instinct is to go to desperate measures to maintain the status quo. The first - and most obvious - source of replacement fuel is biomass, so we're go crazy about corn, sugar and cellulose ethanol extraction. Unfortunately, it's not nearly as cheap or easy

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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