Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Gas about Ethanol

There are a lot of proposals being bandied about on Capitol Hill for how to reduce America’s alleged petroleum dependence. Nearly all of them are silly, according to Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute, but the silliest is the notion that ethanol is going to be the country’s saving grace. He notes that the production of eight gallons of ethanol requires no less than seven gallons of gasoline:

Unfortunately, there is much less energy in 8 gallons of ethanol than in the 7 gallons of gasoline-equivalent needed to produce it. The Energy Department estimates the highway mileage of a Nissan Titan drops from 18 mpg to 13 mpg by switching to E85 (85 percent ethanol). That is why lavish subsidies to auto companies to produce flexible fuel vehicles are useless -- a disguised bailout at best.

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The stats you quote may be accurate for corn (I have seen multiple analyses), but are decidedly wrong for some other forms of biomass.


A prof. at UNH has been working the numbers on growing algae biomass using the human waste stream. They look extremely promising. Soylent Green is People, but without the thermodynamic gotcha. His numbers show 0.3% of US land could meet current needs (25,000 gallons/acre yield, and desert areas are the best location).


Biomass has a potential.


That said, from what I can gather the current corn policy is political cover and an ag subsidy to boot.

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