The era of cheap oil is over and America is increasingly dependent on imported energy. In our search for energy security and sustainability, is ethanol a viable option or a dead end? Is it truly renewable? Is it good for the environment? In short, is ethanol good for America? This book goes beyond the headlines in search of answers to America’s ethanol questions.
Most North American automobiles run on gasoline, and this will not change quickly. We need ethanol in the near term because it can be used with gasoline in existing vehicles. Soon, new technologies could improve the fuel economy of ethanol powered vehicles. Ethanol could also be used in combination with electric motors, fuel cells, turbo-chargers, and hydrogen technology. Critics of ethanol often implicate current farming methods. Today’s ethanol is often made from corn grown in an unsustainable manner, with large amounts of petroleum-derived fertilizers and pesticides. However, a growing number of farmers are transitioning to more sustainable practices. Higher fossil fuel prices will accelerate this trend. Farmers are getting better yields with fewer fossil fuel inputs and less soil erosion. Ethanol producers are using fewer fossil fuel inputs as well. Some are even using renewable “process fuels” in place of natural gas or coal. Before long, they will be making cellulosic ethanol, butanol, and biogas from prairie grasses, crop residues, and various organic waste materials. Too often, ethanol critics overlook these advances in sustainability. But these new technologies and processes are real. Some are already here.
We are just scratching the surface of ethanol’s potential. Ethanol is not a perfect fuel. There is no such thing. But ethanol is preferable to imported petroleum, and ethanol production is getting more efficient.
In Sustainable Ethanol, learn about the technologies that make ethanol make sense.
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