Legislatures are tripping over themselves passing bills making ethanol the next big thing, the answer than can keep the twin boogeymen of foreign oil dependancy and global warming at bay.
But ethanol is really not all that they want it to be. E-85 vehicles get significantly less miles per gallon than gasoline powered vehicles, 20 - 30% less.
Here is a quote from FactCheck.org:
"The latest Clean Cities Alternative Fuels Price Report, which was issued in March and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, shows the average retail price per gallon of E85 was approximately 20 cents less than that of gasoline, but ethanol was 66 cents more expensive when measured as a per-gallon gasoline equivalent"
The rest of the factcheck.org analysis can be found here.
Ethanol isn't the answer and looks be another way to continue, and even increase, government subsidies for huge agribusinesses like Archers Daniel Midland. Corporate welfare, such as has been enjoyed by the oil industry for years, is also alive and well in agriculture.
A couple of researchers from Cornell showed that producing a gallon of ethanol took more than a gallon of gasoline. Their findings are considered an exaggeration, but even other researchers who support ethanol say that at best it takes about 3/4 of a gallon of gas to produce one gallon of ethanol. Ethanol which contains 20-30% less energy.
Since it takes at least 3/4 of a gallon of gas to produce a gallon of ethanol it might not ever become cost efficient to use E-85 rather than straight gas or diesel since as the price of gas increases so will the inherent cost of the ethanol. That is an analysis waiting to be done.
An all electric infrastructure for our vehicles is the real answer, probably starting with a plug-in hybrid or the GM Volt within a few years. The problem is that the pesky suns shines near about everywhere and so is available to anyone who might want to get a rack of solar panels and a a storage battery or two with which to power up their car overnight. But then Exxon and/or Archers Daniel Midland would be cut off from their main source of profit (and subsidies) and we can't have that now, can we?
Thanks for reading.
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