Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brazil Needs Booze

Brazil leads the world in blending ethanol into gasoline for transportation fuel. Their large land mass and their large sugar cane crop helped support an industry that over the past twenty years became the darling of the lefties at Cal Bezerkeley. Many papers were written at that fine institution that ethanol from cane has a positive carbon footprint and that while ethanol from corn in the US may not have a positive carbon footprint we need not worry as ethanol from cane sugar will dominate the world stage for this bio fool. Fast forward and we now find out Brazil cannot supply their own needs of ethanol and they have become net importers of the fuel. From whom do they get the fuel? From the US of course and the ethanol certainly did not come from cane sugar in Hawaii, it came from corn in the Midwest. Brazil is so short of ethanol they have cut down the fraction of ethanol in gasoline blend from 25% to 20%.

Our government wants us to increase our fraction of ethanol in gasoline above 10% and the fuel fools at Bezerkeley are all love this as they dream of green while ignoring thermodynamics. Of course Brazil discovered large fossil fuel reserves and this is not 1979 in Brazil when they were impoverished and could not afford oil imports after the oil shock. Brazil needed to become self-sufficient in transportation fuels and the cane sugar ethanol did help. However what really helped was the discovery of massive fields of oil off shore of Brazil and exploitation of these fields allowed Brazil to become a major oil producer. The Brazilian economy has been propelled by the Chinese economy the Chinese need for Brazilian iron ore and Soy Beans. Over the past decade trade between Brazil and China has grown 20 fold. Over the past decade the only thing at Bezerkeley that has grown is the cost students must pay to attend university in our bankrupt state.

The equally dumb staff at the California Energy Commission in Sacramento mandated the need for low carbon transportation fuels and mistakenly they continue to think that natural gas is not a low carbon fuel. They still have this dream of electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. While Brazil actually has had massive economic growth in the last decade, we have had nearly none except for Apple, Facebook, Google and a few other social media companies. Our Silicon Valley is depleted of all silicon and perhaps one hundred thousandth of the microelectronic circuits fabricated each year on planet may actually come from Silicon Valley where it all started. Industry has been driven away and the Fabs I designed at Intel, National Semi, VLSI, Xerox PARC, and others have been dismantled and their equipment sold to China or just sits on a scrap heap.

The team at Bezerkeley can write academic papers that cane sugar ethanol is green but even the verdant and large country of Brazil has no space to increase their crop. More and more of the world’s cane sugar is now grown on irrigated land and that irrigated cane sugar actually has massive carbon and water footprints. It had to happen that Brazil could not simply propel their fleet of vehicles on cane sugar based ethanol. Even a weed that grows fast but yet relies on photosynthesis cannot propel almost a billion vehicles on the planet and 60 million vehicles in Brazil. C’mon folks over the past decade many millions of people saw their lives improve because of economic growth driven primarily from China. These people want cars not bicycles and cars need fuel not foot power so let’s all move toward the Prius or a much smaller version of the Prius that should be called the Minus. The one thing that remains constant in Brazil is excellent football. I hope that when they all drive in cars they do not lose their innate skill to kick a ball into a net. I still have dreams of being Pele, but I certainly do not have dreams of being the governator of our decaying yet once golden state. The Kelvinator maybe, as old Kelvin was top notch in thermodynamics. One can still buy a Kelvinator refrigerator in Argentina but like Maradona was not Pele, Argentina is not Brazil when it comes to economic or football miracles.