Right now politicians are falling all over themselves to promote ethanol as the solution to America’s “gasoline shortage” problem.
I burn 10% ethanol in my truck, and I kind of like it, but ethanol won’t; it can’t become the solution because there is not enough enough ground to grow the inputs (especially ethanol from corn) and still feed people. Corn is used directly or indirectly in many more food products than almost any American knows. Ethanol is going to have a huge environmental fuel, and it is not really a fossil-fuel-free form energy but so much petroleum is used to produce it.
Here is part of a great editorial in the Missoulian.
(1) It takes one gallon of fossil fuel to produce 1.3 gallons of grain ethanol (not much gain); (2) Corn grain ethanol production promotes soil erosion (280 pounds of soil lost per gallon of ethanol); (3) The amount of corn required to fill one 25-gallon tank of gas could feed a person for a year; (4) Corn is an important export to developing countries. Diversion to ethanol production may strain our capacity to supply these countries; (5) Ethanol cannot be transported by pipeline; (6) Ethanol plants demand large volumes of water and generate wastewater.
Read the rest: Guest Column: In quest for fuel alternatives, it pays to look before leaping. Missoulian.