Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Breeding Corruption and Disrespect: Wine In The Digital Age

The experiment known as "Prohibition" failed for one primary reason:

The legal, law enforcement and regulatory means it used to promote its goals of curbing corruption and over consumption of alcohol so far exceeded what ordinary people thought reasonable that it actually promoted a disrespect for the law and with it even more corruption.

The response to the failure of Prohibition, Repeal and the institution of a "three-tier system of alcohol distribution, has, ironically, failed for the same reasons.

To quote Professor Lawrence Lessig, speaking on NPR's "To the Best of Our Knowledge" about the impact of highly restrictive copyright laws in a digital age, "when the law reaches too far...it begins to erode society's respect for the law generally and it begins to breed a kind of corruption inside of society."

This is exactly what has happened with regard to wine distribution laws in America. The various laws that define the three-tier system by restricting more direct distribution of alcohol, particularly of the vast number of wines that have entered the American marketplace in the last 20 years, reach so far beyond what consumers and alcohol vendors want or understand as reasonable, that a certain disrespect for these law and for alcohol regulation in general, has built up inside the industry and even within the wine consuming vanguard.

In speaking to the current state of copyright law, Lessig actually uses the experience of Prohibition to note, by analogy, that excessive, ill conceived and unsupported regulation of digital culture has led to a disrespect for laws in general, but also to massive corruption inside government.

Were professor Lessig to have explored and followed the analogy of Prohibition to current copyright law to its historical outcome, he would have found that the alcohol distribution regulations that followed the demise of Prohibition have become, like Prohibition itself, so ill conceived and so unsupported as to result in corruption inside government, inside alcohol regulatory agencies, inside the semi-private institutions (alcohol distributors that occupy the middle tier of the 3 tier system) that are state mandated, and even inside the other tiers of the state mandated distribution system. This massive corruption is a result of an old system that has long failed to recognize the needs and desires of the industry groups and the general society it is supposed to serve.

What kind of corruption and disrespect for laws has the post-Prohibition 3-tier system bred?

Among Wholesalers and Distributors: Their state-mandated monopolies on alcohol distribution has led to such extreme wealth and control that they now virtually determine the lawmaking process where alcohol related laws are concerned. In addition, they are so completely favored within the legal structure of alcohol distribution that they can dictate terms to all but the largest product suppliers. And, their favored role inside the three-tier system allow them to ignore regulations that affect them with the knowledge if they are caught, the penalties will be so inconsequential as to make the law breaking worth the potential consequences that come with getting caught.

Among Producers & Suppliers: For years, and still among some today, producers and suppliers ignore many of the laws, tax reporting requirements and prohibitions on shipping directly to consumers where it is illegal. When these regulations are ignored it is done because absurd and unsupported claims are used to justify these outdated restrictions on trade and fail to take account of real consumer demand and the substantial changes in the structure of the economy, the marketplace and technology that make these restrictions and their original justifications inconsequential.

Among Vendors: Today some retailers ignore the widespread restrictions on shipping direct to consumers across state lines. They do this not because their is substantially more profit to be made by shipping direct to consumers, as there is for wineries, but because there has yet to be offered a single justification for the restrictions on retailer shipping that goes beyond the predatory and protectionist desires that wholesalers and distributors have where their control of alcohol distribution is concerned. The giant alcohol distributors and their associations offer depraved and insulting public threats of "minor access" to wine if it is shipped direct, the ridiculous notion that tainted products will be shipped across the country if they don't have a hand in their distribution and the self-serving but unsubstantiated idea that government won't collect its due taxation on wine sales if distributors don't control its collection. These set of claims are so absurd that retailers have come to develop a disrespect for the law and restrictions they are supposed to support. And in some cases that disrespect, combined with the the obvious desire among consumers to obtain the wines they offer, lead retailers to ignore the laws and find a way to get the wines shipped.

Among Alcohol Regulators: For the most part alcohol regulators across the country have found themselves in the position of being referees in between competing systematic interests groups, be they distributors, consumers, suppliers or vendors. And for the most part, they do the best job they possibly can in managing the rules and regulations that define the three-tier system. Yet, the fact that the continued existence of the arcane, ancient, silly and often unsupported rules that make up the three-tier system defines their jobs and their future has led some alcohol regulators to go well beyond simply enforcing the laws they are empowered to implement. Many actually team with the most powerful players inside this system—the distributors—to help them maintain their control and power. In Michigan we saw the head of that state's alcohol regulatory body actually lobby to strip retailers of the means to get wine to their customers, to give greater power to distributors and to further strip consumers of their ability to access legal products. That's not their job. But the nature of the system they regulate has led to this corruptive activity.

Among Lawmakers: The lawmakers at the state level that craft the rules regulating the distribution of alcohol regularly create and pass the rules that breed disrespect for laws and the corruption that ensues from that disrespect. They find themselves under different kinds of pressure. The nature of campaign financing requires them to raise substantial sums of money to get re-elected. The nature of the three tier system has given distributors the power to help them do just that. Alcohol distributors in nearly every state donate substantial sums of money to the lawmakers that are empowered to create the laws that define wine distribution. It's no wonder that the laws that are crafted most often protect the monopoly status that distributors enjoy in so many states while at the same time restricting the growth of the wine market, inhibiting the growth and prosperity of wine producers, stifling the ability of retailers to fulfill a growing demand for specialty wine products and angering consumers who are forced to take part in lawbreaking just to get a simple bottle of wine or to submerge entirely their interest in specialty products and find tainted solace in the wines to which they are told by middlemen they may have access.

I'm always wary of those people who declare that "if you are not with us, you are against us" or "if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem." It strikes me as an unthinking and ridged stance that doesn't account for the details and nuance of an issue that often defines reality. But in the case of the three-tier system and its corrupting nature, I'm actually inclined to believe that if you are not in favor of a complete overall of this system of alcohol distribution then you are indeed part of the problem that only breeds corruption and disrespect for law.

BIOETHANOL (clean,green,and renewable fuel )

As one of the UK’s leading agriprocessors with an interest in innovative new technology, British Sugar began production of bioethanol in September 2007 making it the first company to manufacture bioethanol in the UK.

British Sugar is able to supply bioethanol with full traceability including a full life cycle analysis. This is necessary to demonstrate that the whole process of production, including crop growing, fermentation and distribution, is carried out in such a way that genuine environmental benefits are delivered.

About bioethanol
Bioethanol is made using yeast fermentation followed by distillation. It can be mixed with petrol at up to 5% inclusion and used in cars running on ordinary unleaded petrol.

Bioethanol life cycle
Bioethanol is a carbon-friendly fuel which is fully renewable. It can be made again and again without depleting the earth's resources.

In the UK, bioethanol can be economically produced by the fermentation of sugar beet or wheat. In our Wissington plant, we produce bioethanol from sugar beet which is supplied under contract by existing growers.

Producing up to 55,000 tonnes (70 million litres) of bioethanol every year, the plant uses around 110,000 tonnes of sugar. This is equivalent to 650,000 tonnes of sugar beet. Beet supplied to British Sugar for bioethanol manufacture is grown on existing farm land.

Bioethanol is produced by the fermentation of sugars followed by distillation to produce a pure alcohol.

Fossil fuels are used in the production process but every effort is made to optimise fuel efficiency. British Sugar has embraced a system called Combined Heat & Power (CHP), recognised as one of the most fuel-efficient processes available. About 80% of the energy in the fuel is employed in the sugar manufacturing process. As a result of the close integration with the sugar factory we have been able to demonstrate savings in excess of 60% in CO2 emissions when compared to petrol.

In the UK, bioethanol can be added to standard unleaded petrol at levels up to 5% and used in any car on the road today. In the Energy Act 2004, the UK Government provided for the enactment of a Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO). This mechanism is very similar to the Renewables Obligation operating in the electricity sector. The obligation was introduced in April 2008 with an obligation of 2.5% biofuels in 2008-2009 and 3.75% in 2009-2010, reaching 5% for 2010-2011.

A blend of up to 5% bioethanol can be used in any unleaded car on the road in the UK today. In the longer term, there is potential for ordinary cars to use higher blends. Some car manufacturers have already developed engines to operate on blends of up to 85% bioethanol known as E85.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

knowledge of ethanol for fuel


Principles of Alcohol Production For Fuel

Two types of alcohol will work equally well for fuel. They are ethanol and methanol. we refer to ethanol when we speak of alcohol, unless we specifically say methanol. Alcohol content is measured in proof. The proof is twice the percent. Thus 100 proof alcohol is 50% alcohol and 50% water. 200 proof alcohol is 100% alcohol.


Ethanol is also called ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol. All industrial ethanol was produced from grain fermentation until the industry discovered they could make it cheaper from petroleum. This was in pre-OPEC days. The ethanol industry was geared to producing high-purity industrial alcohol or drinkable alcohol. For this reason, they were locked in to using stainless steel and copper equipment, and also to the process of distillation. Distillation served not only to separate the alcohol from the water, but to separate other impurities from the alcohol - impurities that might make a person sick if he drank it. That is why the fuel alcohol industry started with technology developed for the liquor and industrial alcohol industry. That was all the technology there was. As more people experiment with making alcohol strictly for fuel, ways will quickly be found to do it cheaper when we get away from the traditional thinking of the old distillers. Ethanol can be made from anything containing starch or sugar. The higher the starch or sugar content, the higher is the alcohol potential of the crop. Cellulose in stalks, wood or paper can also be used to make ethanol, but the process is expensive with present technology. Starch is the most important storage form of carbohydrates in the plant kingdom. However, another significant form is inulin. Artichokes, Dahlias and Dandelions all store carbohydrates as inulin. The inulin is made up of fructose molecules instead of glucose, as in starch. It has been found that most of the carbohydrate is stored in the Jerusalem artichoke stem before the bulb starts to form. If it is stored as fructose, and if it does not change to inulin soon after harvesting, the fructose can be fermented as is. But if it is inulin, we know of no commercial, economical enzymes available to break down inulin. (Bitter almonds do contain inulinase.) The carbohydrate can be broken down with high heat and strong acid, but with a lot of energy input and 20% or more destruction of the sugar. If the fructose in the stem is useable, the tops can be cut off and the bulb left in the ground to grow again.


Enzymes break down starch into simple sugars, and yeast ferments sugars into ethanol, giving off carbon dioxide gas as a by product. The process has been used since civilization began. Starch is made up of long chains of glucose molecules coiled together. The starch must be broken down into sugars that are only one or two molecules long for the yeast to feed on. In the process described in this book, the liquefying enzyme breaks the chemical bonds at random inside the chain, producing shorter chains, or dextrins, as they are called. The saccharifying enzyme works on the end of the chain only. It could take off the glucose molecules one by one from the ends of the starch chains and eventually would convert all the starch to sugar. The liquefying enzyme gives the saccharifying enzyme more ends to work on, however, and speeds up the process considerably. There are other monosaccharicles (one molecule only) besides glucose, but glucose is the most common. Disaccharides are two monosaccharicles joined together. Table sugar (sucrose) is one glucose and one fructose molecule. Milk sugar, or lactose, is one galactose and one glucose joined together. Maltose is a disaccharide made up of two glucoses. Yeast can ferment glucose, maltose, and sucrose rapidly, and galactose and lactose slowly. Enzymes are proteins that change a chemical entity, or molecule, of one substance into a molecule of something else. The enzyme acts on the substance, but is not used up. The enzyme changes one molecule, then detaches from it and works on another molecule. A few molecules of enzyme will eventually get around to all the molecules of whatever it works on, but the right amount of enzyme will do the job faster. People have enzymes in their mouths that break down starch. If you hold a piece of soda cracker in your mouth, it will begin to taste sweet. This is exactly the process that takes place in the mash. Enzymes are highly specialized. Each one does only one thing. In this process, one enzyme chops up the long chains of starch into shorter chains. Another enzyme changes the short chains of starch into sugar. Enzymes, like humans, function within a fairly narrow range of physical conditions. They must have a certain temperature and degree of acidity. They can be rendered useless by chemical poisons, heavy metals, high heat, etc. Each enzyme has a certain set of conditions under which it works best. When grain sprouts, enzymes change the starch into sugar that the new plant can use for food. Before enzymes were avail-able for purchase, grain was sprouted, or .malted,. then dried, ground, and mixed with the rest of the grain as a source of enzymes. This method can still be used, but it is quicker to use commercially available enzymes. Starch can be broken down without enzymes with strong acid and high heat. However, the process takes a lot of time and energy, and then the excess acid has to be neutralized with alkali before fermentation can take place. After the starch is changed to sugar by enzymes, yeast changes the sugar to alcohol in the absence of air. The process is called fermentation, and it takes about 21/2 days. Carbon dioxide gas is produced as the yeast changes sugar to Alcohol. A bushel of grain yields by weight about 1/3 carbon dioxide, 1/3 ethanol, and 1/3 highprotein residue. The carbon dioxide gas can be allowed to escape through an air lock or a one-way vent valve, or it can be collected and used. The fermented mash contains about 10% alcohol. At this concentration, the alcohol begins to kill the yeast. The batching should be done so that all the sugar and starch in the mash will have been used up by the time this10%alcohol content is reached. It takes 13 pounds of sugar to yield 1 gallon of 190 proof ethanol. The amount of raw material in the mash will be determined by its starch and sugar content. In order to get fuel alcohol, the alcohol content must be increased from 10% to 90 - 95%. At present, the only workable way to do this is to distill it. In the future, other ways may be discovered which take advantage of the different properties of alcohol and water.


The temperature of the water-alcohol mixture is raised to above the boiling point of ethanol (173 degrees F at sea level) but below the boiling point of water (212 degrees F). The alcohol changes to vapor and rises in the column, but some of the water vaporizes with it. In a simple still, like that used by the moon shiner, the distillate is about half water. If this is re-distilled, a higher concentration of alcohol can be obtained, up to about 195 proof. Further separation cannot be obtained by distillation because of a quirk in the chemistry of the mixture. (Water and alcohol form an azeotrope at this point.) The final fraction of water must be removed by other methods, if this is necessary. Farm alcohol plants can produce 190 to 192 proof alcohol with one pass through a still equipped with a reflux column, which is a device for making the mixture of liquids vaporize, condense, then re-vaporize over and over until the alcohol is nearly free of water. In summary, the starch is changed to sugar by enzymes. The yeast changes the sugar to alcohol during fermentation, giving off carbon dioxide gas and leaving a high-protein residue in the mash. The mash contains about 10% alcohol after fermentation. It is then distilled to make a fuel alcohol that is 160 to 190 proof, or 80 to 95% alcohol. After the mash has been distilled, the protein and the water are left. The water can be reused after the protein is separated, or the entire stillage can be flowed over straw or hay and fed to livestock.


Methanol, also called methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, works just as well as ethanol for fuel, but the process for making it is completely different. Methanol is a highly poisonous liquid. It will kill you if you drink it, and it can kill you if it soaks into the skin. Methanol is made by heating wood wastes, stalks, etc., under relatively low heat and high pressure and then purifying the product by fractionating columns. It can be made from material that is not suited to ethanol production, but if grains, for instance were used to make methanol, all the protein would be destroyed. Methanol can also be made from coal. Both ethanol and methanol have their place in farm fuel plants.