Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Corn-Based Ethanol

Ethanol has been used as an automotive fuel for over a century. Henry Ford designed his Model T in 1908 to run on an ethanol/gasoline mixture.

The article by Charles Stillman via CLEAN.org titled "Corn-Based Ethanol: The Energy Answer?" examines the history of ethanol. Currently there is only one E85 pump in the whole state of Texas (in San Antonio). Yet there are plans ahead: "This summer, Kroger supermarkets plan to install E85 pumps at 10 filling stations in Houston. Dallas area residents will be able to fill up at eight of their local Kroger stores."

Stillman also points out a slight drawback to Ethanol such as the fact that E85 gas provides about 30 percent less energy than unleaded gasoline, translating into 5 -15 percent decreased efficiency in miles per gallon.

Yet, corn-based ethanol actually requires less fossil energy (i.e. energy derived from diesel fuel, natural gas or coal) for its production than does gasoline.

Texas’ first ethanol plants are currently being built in the state’s panhandle. Panhandle Energies of Dumas, LP is the first to begin construction. Company officials estimate the plant will produce at least 30 million gallons of ethanol a year.

Stillman also offers up other solutions such as Cellulosic ethanol which requires considerably less fertilizers, provides a greater yield per acre, possesses a higher energy content, and has significantly lower emissions than ethanol produced from corn.
Read the whole article via CLEAN.org

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