Ethanol Instead of Gasoline?
Here is an article from the University of Minnesota detailing some findings on the energy efficiency of biofuels, which are broadly touted to be the great gasoline replacement. Here are some of the most interesting findings: "Soybean biodiesel returns 93 percent more energy than is used to produce it, while corn grain ethanol currently provides only 25 percent more energy." Corn grain ethanol just isn't going to work as a replacement for gasoline. Yet, the major automobile manufacturers are beginning to produce cars that will run on this fuel, in combination with gasoline. "Still, the researchers caution that neither biofuel can come close to meeting the growing demand for alternatives to petroleum. Dedicating all current U.S. corn and soybean production to biofuels would meet only 12 percent of gasoline demand and 6 percent of diesel demand. Meanwhile, global population growth and increasingly affluent societies will increase demand for corn and soybeans for food." OK, fuel from plants will not work as a replacement for gasoline. Unless... "The next step is a biofuel crop that requires low chemical and energy inputs and can give us much greater energy and environmental returns. Prairie grasses have great potential." Goodby prairie!