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Minnesota Governor Calls on Other States to Implement E10 by 2010

In a speech to the meeting of the Governors’s Ethanol Coalition (GEC), Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty called on every state to take steps toward use of at least 10% ethanol in gasoline (an E10 blend) by 2010. Pawlenty chairs the GEC, which includes 31 states as well as Puerto Rico, Sweden, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

In May Governor Pawlenty signed his initiative to double the state’s ethanol use by 2013 by instituting an E20 standard. Minnesota currently requires E10 blends. On 29 September, Minnesota becomes the first state in the nation to require that diesel fuel sold in the state contain 2% biodiesel (B2).

In outlining the “E10 by 2010” goal, Pawlenty said that greater use of renewable fuels is good energy policy, good economic development policy, good national security policy and good environmental policy.

Our ethanol experience has strengthened our rural economy, improved our air quality and reduced our reliance on foreign oil.

In addition to providing us with a domestic source of clean, renewable energy, our ethanol industry boosts the economy in greater Minnesota through stronger corn prices and hundreds of good-paying jobs.

—Gov. Pawlenty

Minnesota has 14 ethanol plants, 12 of which are farmer-owned, with combined capacity of some 450 million gallons of ethanol.



Until cellulosic technology has been perfected and brought up to sufficient scale, I don't think mandating E10 is the way to go. What did he mean by "taking steps" anyway? What kind of steps?

There is almost no infrastructure in place right now to transport tens of millions of gallons of ethanol from the Midwest to Texas, Florida, California, etc. I wonder how much variability there will be in the price of E85 in Minnesota as compared to Florida.


I was under the impression anything beyond a 10% ethanol blend will cause problems for modern engines that have not been modified for a richer fuel/air mix. How is the governor going to deal with this issue?


Not necessarily. Current engines are warrantied for up to E10. The industry hasn’t done much testing on E20 (there hasn’t been much demand in this country for it) to determine whether or not there would be a problem).

But I believe they (the state and the automakers) are looking into it.


So does blending ethanol into gasoline really save fossil fuels or reduce pollution? I seem to remember reading that at least some ethanol plants are big air polluters, that lots of energy is consumed in its production and that farm subsidies make the economics questionable at best. I'm sure the farm states love it, however...


We really should be concentrating on making methanol from cellulose. With the ultimate plan to use it to esterify BioDiesel. Hemp, grasses and Poplar trees are really good renewable sources.


Most reliable sources that I have found regarding the economics of using ethanol as a combustion fuel have pointed at the same conclusion as below:

"Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion to ethanol, 131,000 BTUs are needed to make 1 gallon of ethanol. One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTU. "Put another way," Pimentel says, "about 70 percent more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that actually is in ethanol. Every time you make 1 gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTU."

He goes on to say:

"Abusing our precious croplands to grow corn for an energy-inefficient process that yields low-grade automobile fuel amounts to unsustainable, subsidized food burning."

The guys seems to have a few credentials as well:

I'm not sure if the same conclusions can be drawn about biodiesel, but I wouldn't doubt it.


There are ways to significantly decrease the amount of energy needed to produce ethanol. Water is about 85% of the mixture that comes out of the fermenter. One method uses sulphur to separate the ethanol from the water used for fermentation. Another way uses alcohol's greater affinity for castor oil over water. Typical distillation methods use a lot of btus raising the temperature of the water from fermentation temperature to over 170F. The use of heat pumps could also significantly reduce the energy used in producing ethanol. Smart engineering changes everything.

Tripp Bishop


Actually, Pimental's research has been routinely torn apart for relying on old data. He is right, Ethanol takes more energy to produce than you get out... if you're still living in the late 1970's. Since then there have been big gains in the efficiency of harvesting the corn as well as in the fermentation processes at the ethanol plants. The lastest research shows that Ethanol is now a net gain (because most of the energy comes from the sun, not us). I believe that for every unit of energy in you get 1.34 out. Compare that to .85 for gasoline.

Tripp Bishop

Sorry Lucas, that should've been directed at Corey, not you.



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