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Lynd 16 (1:36)
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There's this notion that it takes more fossil fuel
energy to put into making ethanol than you end up using, and therefore, why
this may line some people's pockets, the argument often goes: how
beneficial can it really be to providing a large-scale energy source, if it
takes more than it yields? As currently practiced, almost all evaluations of
corn ethanol show that it is somewhat— has a somewhat favorable energy
balance. That is, you get on the order of, for one part of liquid fuel
produced, you would put in some, depending on who does the calculation, maybe
3/4 of a part of liquid fuel in. And that is a pretty marginal benefit,
especially because you need a great deal of land if you only have a 25 percent
For cellulose, or cellulosic biomass, that ratio is more
like 10:1 of energy out to energy in. And in fact, for petroleum refining
today, it's about 7:1 and that's a pretty mature industry. And so
if you get 10 energy units out for every energy unit in, that's a pretty
good deal. And, you know, it's funny how the perception of uncertainty or
disagreement persists, but in my opinion, there simply is no informed
disagreement on the subject of the net energy balance of cellulosic ethanol
being profoundly favorable.