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June 15, 2012
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Corn: Great for Breakfast, Not for Fuel by poasterchild Corn: Great for Breakfast, Not for Fuel by poasterchild
Please disseminate widely, thank you! This does not give permission to alter or claim credit for this re-mixed work, for which I retain all copyrights. The original illustration is in the public domain.

If you disagree with the views expressed here, please be sure to read my Policy Statement BEFORE you post: [link]


This poaster has been prompted by several comments from other deviants indicating a great lack of knowledge about different sources of biofuels. Most people know about ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, which is derived from corn. It is simply moonshine made on an industrial scale. The sugar in corn is simply fermented and turned into alcohol. This process also works with sugar cane, sugar beets, and literally any other food crop (e.g., peaches or apples).

But, it's a waste of food, and there's not nearly enough corn to meet the Nation' demand for liquid fuels for transportation (gasoline and diesel).

The other common process used these day is called transesterfication, and involves the chemical transformation of the fats or fatty oils found in soybean, canola, palm seeds, and other plants, or waste fats from restaurants. This is how biodiesel is made. Again, this method, while it works, is expensive and wastes food supplies that could be better used in other ways. Moreover, as with the production of ethanol, there is not nearly enough supply to meet a significant portion of the demand for liquid fuels.

The newest technologies, still in the development stage, involve using a process called pyrolysis, wherein biomass (any formerly living material containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) i converted into a bio-oil, or "green petroleum." The advantages of this method are several. First, there is a large supply of biomass waste available from agriculture, forestry, municipal garbage, and other source. About 1.3 billion ton of biomass wastes are available in the United States every year -- enough to replace about 25% of all gasoline and diesel consumption. Second, the supply is cheap -- cow manure for example is much cheaper than corn or soybeans. Third, this process turns environmental liabilities into environmental assets. Fourth, "green" fuels produced in this manner substantially reduce greenhouse gas and other pollutants, compared to both bio-fuels produced from corn or soybeans, and conventional liquid fuels produced from petroleum.

You can read more about the availability of waste biomass here: [link]

If you want to know more, I will soon post here a list of sources, written in plain English, that will help you improve your knowledge and understanding.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconmenapia:
menapia Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
Why use corn at all, here in Wexford we have a small biomass plant that produces biofuel, it also uses rapeseed which provides oil for biodiesel and the remainder is converted into cheap cowcake, the  farmers co-op who owns it also has members who have started growing African elephant grass which can be converted into more biofuel or into eco firelogs which are all sold locally.  There's a couple of viable alternatives which also provide a way of supporting local level industry and jobs creation. brill poster  
Reply
:iconkitsumekat:
kitsumekat Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013
1. Most of the corn that is produced is livestock corn. Not ment for human conumption raw.
2. Ethanol is mixed with the gas to reduce polution and gas prices.
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Yes, but the hard "dent" corn you are speaking about is a primary food source for the cows, pigs, and chickens that are eaten by people. Even if one were to use every single bushel of corn produced in the United States (which is impossible) you would not replace more than about 12% of the amount of gasoline consumed every year in the United States. Corn to ethanol technology was a good first step, but it is far from a sustainable long-term solution. Indeed, without the current Federal subsidy for ethanol ($0.50 per gallon paid to the blenders, who mixed the ethanol with the gasoline before it goes to the gas station), and import quotas on cheap ethanol from Brazil from sugar cane (where it is made using a much less expensive process than you need for making ethanol from corn), the domestic corn → ethanol industry would not survive.
Reply
:iconkitsumekat:
kitsumekat Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013
Actually, there has been a process to produce ethanol from a plant grown here but, we do produce corn outside the US.
Reply
:iconmurielleejones:
MurielLeeJones Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2012
thanks for this! fuel from corn was a financial disaster for some parts of the ag community (not least the corn farmers), but impacted the (vulnerable) horse industry, leaving us scrambling for alternatives to beets and corn. We are still dealing with lost hay acreage.

Fuel from waste is one way to prove a "product" from horses, allowing horses to retain "ag status", anyways, I'll spare you the rant, but in summary, if we have a potential product the horses themselves don't have to be the product, and we can ban slaughter.
Reply
:icontheanonymousz:
TheAnonymousZ Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
We wouldn't need to sacrifice eco-friendly fuel to the hungry if far-asses in the US didn't feel the need to eat 20 times the world average.*

*That is not an actual statistic
Reply
:iconcoop--deville:
coop--deville Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
corn isn't the answer for people either. we can't digest it . either can cows. thats how that horrible strain of ecoli came to be. but if you want cheap food that makes you fat corn is the way to go. i like the poster though.
Reply
:iconeehills:
EEHills Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Feeding people is more important than feeding cars and should have priority. Therefore, food crops should not be turned into fuel while people do not have adequate food.
Reply
:icontrickycreature:
TrickyCreature Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Pyrolisis can be used also on plastics, rubber etc. So broken toys, non-metal garbage from car repairs, even the human waste from hospitals, dog poo etc. can be turned into fuel.
The problem isn't the producing of fuel, I think, but the SAVING of it. To be honest: Does everybody need a "hummer"?
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Damn, you're good. That's right -- anything that contains carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen can be pyrolyzed and turned into fuel -- including the dead bodies of Tea Party Republicans (just kidding, of course, unless they die of natural causes). And, yes, energy conservation is the easiest, cheapest, and fastest means of breaking the petroleum addiction.
Reply
:icontrickycreature:
TrickyCreature Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
First sad fact:
The only guy in the US driving a small car is Inspector Columbo.
Second sad fact:
He's only fictitious.
Reply
:iconhaze3p0:
Haze3P0 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree. Corn should be used to feed the people of the world, especially the poor and hungry, not to feed our cars.
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
This year, 2012, 30% of US corn production will go to the manufacture of ethanol. Another 20% is used to feed animals raised for meat.
Reply
:iconhara-sura:
Hara-Sura Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
There's also the option of methanol - aka wood alcohol - that can be made from just about anything organic and can easily be converted into a drop-in replacement for gasoline.
Reply
:iconmadeinkobaia:
MadeInKobaia Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Professional General Artist
Completely agree.
Reply
:iconcitrineg:
CitrineG Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I love you!
I wish they could come up with some way to turn the stuff we can't aet, like the corn HUSKS into fuel.
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
There is a way to do this. Any organic material (anything containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, including corn "stover" -- every part of the plant except the corn kernels) can be converted into a renewable "green" bio-oil that can be substituted for fossil fuel petroleum and then refined in an existing conventional oil refinery into any petroleum product, including gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, kerosene, jet fuel, and so forth. This process works with ANY organic material, including corn stover, wood, grasses like switchgrass, cow manure, chicken manure, whatever. This process is called Fractional Catalytic Pyrolysis. It is complicated to explain, but basically, the organic material is heated to a very high temperature in a closed reactor with no oxygen present. The high heat breaks down the organic material into several components, including the bio-oil mentioned above, which can then be refined just like convention petroleum.

There is another way to convert corn stover to fuel, by making what is called cellulosic ethanol (ethyl alcohol). Corn ethanol is what is blended into gasoline today. Cellulosic ethanol is exactly the same chemically as corn ethanol (both are ethyl alcohol), but the way you make it is different. Making corn ethanol is easy. It's just moonshine, actually. The corn kernels are cooked, and using naturally occurring yeast the sugar they contain is fermented into alcohol (ethanol).

Now, the stalks, leaves, and roots of the corn plant also contain fermentable sugars, but in the form of cellulose. Cellulose is nothing more than long chains of sugar molecules, but, it is complex to break down the cellulose into individual sugar molecules that can be fermented into alcohol. Technically, this can be done, but the problem to date has been the cost. If the ethanol you produce is more expensive than the gasoline you want to replace, no one is going to want to do it. They are working on this, and there are some promising commercially-viable solutions. Google "Project Liberty" and you will read about a company called Poet, based in Iowa, that is building such a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery right now. Start here: [link]

While both of these approaches work, to my mind, Fractional Catalytic Pyrolysis is the better approach because (1) you don't need a special refinery (existing oil refineries can be used), and (2) while ethanol substitutes only for gasoline, with Fractional Catalytic Pyrolysis you can make any product that can be refined from petroleum, including gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, jet fuel, etc.

Hope this is clear. Let me know.
Reply
:iconcitrineg:
CitrineG Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I didn't know that, thanks.
but of course, that makes too much sense for people.
Reply
:iconmayhemace:
MayhemAce Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
There wil always be someone who will complain about any type of alternate power source. Ther are obviously people who will come down against bioemass conversion. What we need to do is ignore the naysayers and continue to try to get the governments of the world to adopt this cheap and more effective means of alternate fuel production. Oh,by the way I should mention that I am a big fan of your work. They are interesting and thought provoking just like the best artworks are. I just hope my writing can be just as compelling as your posters.
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
You're very kind.
Reply
:icontopjoshdragon:
TopJoshDragon Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Is this a better alternative than electric cars? I think electric cars are a great idea. They however, people are concerned with the fact that lithium ion or whatever battery they put in electric cars will eventually loose the ability to hold a charge and end up in a landfill or recycling plant. Knowing this are electric cars a good idea to move forward on or are alternate fuels the the more beneficial option?
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
It all depends on how the electricity is produced. About 70% of the electricity generated in the United States is produced by burning coal. So, if your car is using that, it is not such a good deal. If the electricity comes from solar, wind, or geothermal energy though, it is very clean, and a very good deal.
Reply
:iconhara-sura:
Hara-Sura Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
NPR reported the other day that according to the U.S. Department of Energy about 49% of electricity is produced by coal, with natural gas having taken a larger share than it used to have.
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Thanks for updating me on this. Yes, the price of natural gas has fallen considerably, and, since it burns cleaner than coal and many electricity producers are under legal mandates to reduce emissions, there is a big incentive to switch to natural gas IF they have the right kind of equipment. While natural gas is a fossil fuel, it burns a lot cleaner than coal, of course.
Reply
:iconhara-sura:
Hara-Sura Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
One of our local coal-fired plants converted to natural gas recently. The other one is in Kentucky and they won't do anything but coal for political reasons.
Reply
:iconrevengeoftheabyss:
revengeoftheabyss Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012
I really do wish that wind farms were considered a bit less NIMBY. Every single time someone starts talking about building offshore ones in the US, people get all up in arms about them "ruining the view", despite the fact that most proposals involve them being far enough off the coast to only be tiny specs in the distance. On top of that, I think they're kind of beautiful. I live in California, and I always love the view as I drive through the wind farms on the way to Palm Springs. (Though I have to admit, solar farms are far more striking in appearance, but they're also far less useful in areas with less constant sunlight)
Reply
:icongnoll-el:
Gnoll-El Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012
People have protested wind farms as bird and bat killers. Everything has its pluses and minuses.
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
We just had a rejection of a wind farm proposal in the county where I live in Appalachian Virginia. Same deal -- NIMBY.
Reply
:iconrevengeoftheabyss:
revengeoftheabyss Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012
I honestly believe that people who don't want to live near them haven't bothered to actually see what they look like. They're very beautiful, especially in motion, and nothing short of actually seeing them working can convey that properly.
Reply
:icontheanonymousz:
TheAnonymousZ Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Perhaps it's time for the government to spend about $3,000,000,000,000.00 and buy a bit of antimatter, then we could power just about everything. This would definitely pay for it self over time.

Why does nobody think about compressed gasses as a viable fuel source?
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
They use compressed natural gas to run municipal buses and other fleet vehicles several places in the United States, and the Postal Service runs a whole bunch of its trucks using it. Because of the relative complexity of the technology, it is not at present suitable for individual consumer driven cars. In Iceland, where they have unlimited free geothermal energy, they use that to power a hydrolysis plant to create hydrogen gas which is used to run a substantial proportion of the cars, buses, and trucks on the island. Hydrolysis is very energy intensive, so this works only if the energy source is very cheap, or free, as it is in Iceland. When you burn hydrogen, the only thing that comes out of the tailpipe is water, however, and many people feel that hydrogen power is the ultimate in renewable energy.
Reply
:icontheanonymousz:
TheAnonymousZ Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Sigh...
What about micro-energy sources? I havn't heard ANY news about those.
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
I'm specifically concerned about liquid fuels for transportation and home heating, Z.
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:icontheanonymousz:
TheAnonymousZ Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Such as gasoline?
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Yes, gasoline, diesel fuel, and home heating oil (which chemically is almost identical to diesel fuel).
Reply
:icontheanonymousz:
TheAnonymousZ Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
So you don't care about how they are harmful to the environment and think should keep using them as a fuel source? I'm very tired so please excuse me if I am getting confused over a simple misunderstanding.
Reply
:iconpoasterchild:
poasterchild Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Except that gasoline, etc., made from biomass are carbon neutral and contribute much less in the way of other toxics. Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconladyrhianwriter:
LadyRhianwriter Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
I agree. I think we need to use every sort of alternative fuel we can.
Reply
:icondravazed:
Dravazed Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
tweeted
Reply
:iconxdx:
xDx Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional General Artist
Nice piece and great info. Thanks!
Reply
:iconfiend30:
Fiend30 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
yup, try to tell that to everyone, well I do, but...
Reply
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