Ethanol vs. co2 extraction is a debate that can easily be framed as a question of what is more important: fuel or greenhouse gasses. From the standpoint of greenhouse gases, the question has been settled. We can say that the CO2 produced as a byproduct of the process is important, as is the CO2 that is already in the ground. But the question of what is more important has been left up to debate.
Ethanol is produced by heating a corn-based fuel – usually corn – to a high temperature to turn it into ethanol. It is a solid fuel, but can be liquefied and burned as a fuel.
The process is simple in theory, and I’ve done it myself a few times. But as the website says, it is not without risks. For example, some corn-based ethanol plants produce a toxic byproduct called “ethyl acetate” (aka “ethyl alcohol”). Ethanol plants that produce less of this byproduct can produce more ethanol without creating more of it.
What exactly are the dangers of ethanol plant contamination? Ethanol-producing plants produce a compound called acetaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and this compound can be produced by many plants. Ethanol also contains some form of acetaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.
Ethanol is a popular energy source used as a fuel for vehicles, and it is also used to make medicines, plastics, and other products. Ethanol is a popular alternative to gasoline, and a number of small-scale (less than a million barrels per year) ethanol plants have been installed into the United States. While the production of ethanol is a safe practice, the plant contaminates water, air, ground and surface water, and waterways.
This is mainly because the amount of plant matter in a typical ethanol plant is quite small. The water that is used in the process is treated as “wastewater” and is sent to a “treatment plant.” This wastewater is eventually treated with “decontaminants” and sent to “reclamation plants.” This water is subsequently used for irrigation for crops such as corn, sugar cane, and wheat.
This all sounds great, but how many calories do you need for your body to produce a single ethanol molecule? Well, how many calories do you need to eat to produce a single food molecule? The answer is: zero. The only energy used in this process is the calories you burn.
The problem is that the process of growing a food crop uses a lot of energy. If you try to eat a cornucopia of it, you will quickly starve. The problem is that all of the energy you lose in the process of extracting co2 and converting it to usable fuel isn’t used to grow the crop. So what you will do is store the energy that you can get from the co2 and use it to grow crops.
The problem with this is that if you can store that much energy, you are probably in a lot of trouble. The more energy you put into the process, the less you can convert to useful crop. In other words, you are converting energy inefficiently, and you are wasting the energy you do get. The energy that is being converted from the co2 is being converted to energy that is being wasted.
So what you do is store the energy that you can get from the co2 and use it to grow crops. The problem with this is that if you can store that much energy, you are probably in a lot of trouble. The more energy you put into the process, the less you can convert to useful crop. In other words, you are converting energy inefficiently, and you are wasting the energy you do get.