January 23, 2008

“The Ethanol Fallacy”

There was an interesting op-ed piece in the February 08 edition of Popular Mechanics that deals with using corn for fuel.

Remember this is not a political magazine, it is a magazine that simply looks at stuff from a practical standpoint.

The article simply states the facts of what is happening. The politicians in Washington have jumped on the ethanol bandwagon, due in part because of the corporate farmers and “farm states”.

The best part is the “running the numbers” section. Some estimates show that is takes 1.3 gallons of oil to produce 1 gallon of ethanol! Even the more conservative estimates say it takes about 1 btu of fossil fuel energy to produce 1.3 btu of corn ethanol.

There are many other types of alternative fuel’s being researched. There are also proven, working designs for more fuel efficient engines. So why all the fuss for corn ethanol? Money, the corporate farmers have bought enough politicians in Washington to get what they want.

I like the ending line though, “Perhaps someday corn ethanol will prove itself a viable part of our energy mix. But corn liquor is powerful stuff, and it can make people do strange things. Let’s keep it out of Washington’s hands.” Well said!


Anonymous said...

Its very interesting that countless studies have shown this to cost more and more yet ethanol is clearly the way to elimate dependency, farmers have been growing prairie grass and the studies have shown that they were able to produce 5 times the energy they had invested to grow it. The biofuel made from prairie grass is known as cellulosic ethanol. The downside is that there are no biorefineries built that handle cellulosic material, maybe Congress should look at this important crop, in case anyone in congress is reading this, prairie grass wont have devestating effects on developing nations like the increase in the price of corn will

Wesley Matthews said...

Indeed, the way to reduce the dependency on oil is to find something that can replace it. The researchers are the one's that need to play the main role. Not Congress or Big Business.